EIFF 2015 – The Sisterhood of Night

Jul 2, 2015 | Posted by in EIFF 2015
EIFF 2015

Caryn Waechter’s The Sisterhood of Night explores the notion of teenage isolation from the perspective of young women against a paranoid backdrop.

The main focus of the film is Mary (Georgie Henley) and Emily (Kara Hayward). They are two young women who end up being at odds with each other. Mary is the popular girl contrasting with Emily being more shy and reserved using the internet to escape real life. As a central conflict it’s an obvious one but also really strong. Using these characters as the focus of the film gives the audience a view of the two extremes of the social spectrum.

Mary decides to increase her popularity by forming The Sisterhood of Night with her closest friends Catherine (Willa Cuthrell) and Lavinia (Olivia DeJonge). Their club is very exclusive and secret but starts out innocently enough. The strangeness of it is mostly perceived from the outside as the girls try to make it seem more mysterious than it really is. It’s the old idea of making people so curious of what something is that they absolutely want to be a part of it.

Emily feels particularly left out but this secret society so she uses her blog to start a relentless campaign to discredit them. Her bitterness over not being invited ends up being very dangerous. She goes too far when accusing the sisterhood of molesting her and it’s easy to accept that she might not fully consider the implications of such a massive accusation.

I really liked how the conflict between the two girls played out over the course of the film. There’s a bit of role reversal going on as Emily’s confidence grows to the point of arrogance once her blog becomes more popular and and online version of the sisterhood forms. Mary starts to lose her friends through the heat that the group gets and as a result becomes more introverted.

The Sisterhood of NightThe beauty of this conflict is that neither side are really in the right here. Emily goes too far but arguably her bitterness is the result of her social rejection by Mary who starts off being too self obsessed and generally unpleasant to some of the people she comes into contact with. The chemistry between the two actresses is absolutely spot on but it’s somewhat wasted by the fact that they really don’t share too many scenes together.

It’s impressive that the film feels like it’s telling a large scale story but mostly keeps it grounded on the characters involved. The pacing is slow enough to allow the characters to develop and the writing is sharp enough to make them feel like real teenage girls. This is also backed up by the strong performances by all of the young cast who bring a certain level of authenticity to the whole thing.

I really like how the film developed the atmosphere. In the beginning the inner workings of the Sisterhood of Night are largely mysterious to the viewer which allows Emily’s perspective to be understood. It’s a clever device to make the viewer feel that sense of social isolation and be curious as to what the sisterhood are really up to.

Unfortunately the whole thing starts to fall apart in the second half. I found it to be a bit of a stretch that rational adults act so paranoid with relatively little reason to do so. It can be argued that mob mentality is at play in some way but on the whole I couldn’t really buy into it.

Throughout the film there are a lot of side characters that are introduced and forgotten just as quickly. I do appreciate the sense of scale given that this affects an entire town but there are far too many people to keep track of in such a short running time. Similarly a number of sub plots appear and disappear with little warning and take the focus away from the narrative of the sisterhood. This film would have been much better if the focus had remained on a small number of individuals with the larger consequences bubbling away in the background.

Outside of the core group of girls I found Kal Penn’s Gordy to be the most interesting character with the most fascinating subplot. It’s a shame that it starts too late and isn’t given the room to breathe it needs so it ends up feeling a little superfluous to the overall story.

In a lot of ways the second half of the film undoes a lot of the intrigue set up in the first half and the loss of momentum is something that is never recovered from. Many of the actions of the characters and revelations concerning the sisterhood are really difficult to accept considering how far fetched they are. There’s no supernatural element to the story so some of the reveals don’t quite work in the “real world”.

Despite the flaws I would definitely suggest having a look at this. Lots about it does work and the acting is very strong throughout. It’s a shame that it loses focus but there’s a sense of something interesting being attempted.


  • 6.5/10
    The Sisterhood of Night - 6.5/10


An interesting film that doesn’t quite manage to hold itself together by the end.

The central conflict is really well done and is played with a level of authenticity by the actors that makes is easy to identify with them. When this is combined with the sharp and realistic dialogue the characters all manage to be engaging enough throughout.

I like how the film structured the conflict by having the roles reverse by the end. It allows the audience to get both sides of the argument in a way that seems almost balanced. Ultimately a conclusions is reached but everything about it feels real.

It’s a shame that the film falls apart somewhat in the second half. There are too many side characters and some of the situations are really difficult to get on board with considering how far fetched they seem. If the focus had stayed on the main conflict and the mystery of the sisterhood then it would have been far stronger.

Despite the flawed execution this film is worth checking out as a real attempt is made to do and say something unique. I definitely found it underwhelming but the first half of the film had some real promise.