Saturday 7 January 2023

Shudder Saturday: We Need To Do Something (2021)

A family sheltering from a storm become inadvertently trapped in their bathroom in this strange and intriguing psychological horror. Well, I considered it strange and intriguing, and it has one of the few moments in recent history to give me proper goosebumps and a chill throughout my body, but I can see a lot of people just dismissing it as nonsensical and dull.

Pat Healy and Vinessa Shaw play the parents, the former with a drinking problem and the latter with a secret that maybe isn’t so secret. Sierra McCormick is Melissa, their teenage daughter, and John James Cronin is Bobby, the youngest family member. It doesn’t take long for tensions to rise when the family realise that they are trapped in their bathroom, and trapped alongside people they don’t necessarily like spending time with, despite their familial bonds. While the main part of the film doesn’t leave the bathroom, some flashbacks show us recent developments in the life of Melissa, tied to a strong connection she has made with a young woman named Amy (Lisette Olivera, billed as Lisette Alexis). It soon becomes clear that Melissa worries she may have somehow caused the situation her family is now in.

Written by Max Booth III, adapting his own novella into movie form, this is a film that makes use of the confined setting and small cast by slowly ratcheting up the tension, interspersing things with moments of madness, and allowing viewers to imagine what could be going on outwith those bathroom walls. Some people will hate the fact that we never really see anything, but others will appreciate the chance to unnerve themselves with just their own imagination, prompted by some very good sound cues.

Director Sean King O’Grady puts his faith in the material, as well as his cast, and doesn’t try to cover up any limitations with fancy tricks and flourishes. It doesn’t need any more, especially once we start to dig deeper into Melissa’s backstory. Making his fictional feature debut, after directing some shorts and a documentary previously, O’Grady impresses with an end result that manages to be streamlined and efficient without feeling cheap.

Cast-wise, Healy is always a welcome presence in genre fare, although the downward spiral of his character is a bit quicker that I would have liked, as well as lacking any real nuance. I blame the writing more than the performance, but this is far from Healy’s best work. Shaw fares better, helped by the fact that her character remembers to keep appearing calm and reassured, for the sake of her children, even as things go from bad to worse. Cronin gives a decent performance, a typical little brother, and McCormick does an excellent job in the lead role, being believable and watchable at all times. Alexis also does good work, and her character casts a long shadow over the proceedings, despite her limited screentime. There are one or two others in the cast, used very effectively, whether they get one scene or even just one line of dialogue.

I think there’s a lot to appreciate here. I would watch this again, and would maybe even be looking for different details in certain scenes, piecing together the seemingly-random plot elements that all point towards people also being trapped with their own guilt and/or pain, as opposed to just being trapped in a bathroom. Other people may not want to give it any more time and attention after their fist viewing, and I am sure some won’t even make it to the end. I hesitate to recommend it, but I also hope that people I know give it a try. If it works for you then it should REALLY work, but if it doesn’t . . . ah well, there are plenty more movies to check out. At least the runtime isn’t much more than an hour and a half.


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