October 27, 2021 We Need To Do Something (Movie Review)
If your spooky season needs some peculiarity, look no further than We Need To Do Something. After a successful world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, the Horror-Thriller made its way to select theaters, as well as VOD, on September 3, 2021 thanks to IFC Midnight.
It is a film that wastes not a moment, immediately using drone footage to build tension out of a suburban neighborhood. As viewers are languidly guided inside a mid-century modern home, its occupants are bunkered down in a heinously pink bathroom. Despite a thunderstorm raging, and potential tornadic activity looming, the most sinister energy resides within the rose-colored walls.
Here, an average family of four is being forced to spend some quality time together: Robert (Pat Healy: Starry Eyes 2014, Station 19 series) and his wife Diane (Vinessa Shaw: Hocus Pocus 1993, The Hills Have Eyes 2006), along with their teen daughter, Melissa (Sierra McCormick: Curb Your Enthusiasm series, The Vast of Night 2019), and precocious son, Bobby (John James Cronin: Second Act 2018, NOS4A2 series). But their circumstances are not necessarily what they initially appear to be, and one of the family has a lot of explaining to do.
Written by Max Booth III (Satan His Own Self short 2020), and based on his 2020 novella of the same name, We Need To Do Something is a spectacular feature debut for Director Sean King O’Grady (Land Grab documentary 2016, True Life docu-series). Blending teens toying with the occult and dysfunctional family drama, it feels like a hybrid creature borne of 1996’s The Craft and 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, with elements of Stephen King’s The Mist and 1999’s American Beauty, all entangled by the tentacles of a Lovecraftian influence. If this sounds like nothing you have seen before, it is—a wholly unique experience that tackles topics such as the claustrophobia of suburban expectations, cutting and self-harm, misogyny and witchcraft, apathy and passivity, and the long-ranging consequences of everything we do in life.
Although it’s efficacy in providing an entertaining experience is a bit mixed, as the 95-minute film lags toward its midsection then takes a bizarre, but not wholly unsatisfying twist, in its third act. The end result is a film that will leave moviegoers perplexed and polarized: some will revel in the subversive strangeness of the experience, while others are apt to view the tale’s somewhat amorphous intentions as disappointing.
Despite this, We Need To Do Something clearly succeeds on many fronts. First being that this is a fresh twist on the ‘one-room’ trope, injecting something new into the approach. In providing its audience with a window into the witch trials that are happening nearly every day in suburbia, it relies on moviegoers who appreciate a layered story that draws no finite conclusions. Not stopping there, it is also a Horror offering that believes your imagination is scarier than anything that the filmmakers might show you—so you’re just going to have to be freaked out by the sound of a disembodied King of Darkness (yes, Ozzy Osbourne makes a voice cameo). (You can laugh, too, at a brilliantly placed remake of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Taco.)
All of this noted, the issues with We Need To Do Something never pull a moviegoer out of the experience, but there are moments that detract from the overall quality of the production. From creature effects and props that are cheaply done, to a poor mix of practical and CGI blood effects, there are little things to remind us that this is an indie offering. And though Booth’s screenplay is intriguing, there are a few obvious plot holes—plot points that raise some curious questions that lack satisfactory explanations.
Of course, most important for a film’s success is its casts’ ability to relay every nuance of their characters effectively. Here, the talented ensemble does just this, providing a powerful experience that goes far beyond genre. Healy’s Robert is an insipid alcoholic that is entirely unlikable thanks to the actor’s exceptional delivery, while Shaw hits all the hallmarks of a loving mother, trapped in an emotionally abusive marriage: she puts her children first and silently bears her cross for their sake.
As a recipient of that selfless love, McCormick’s pink-haired Melissa is a fairly typical teen: a pastel goth who is questioning the world around her and how she fits into it all. This makes her an easy target for the gloomy enchantress Amy (Lisette Alexis: Total Eclipse series), who guides Mel’s spiritual awakening. Meanwhile, unaware of any of these issues, Young Cronin’s quirky, somewhat dork-ish Bobby easily endears viewers as he clings to his mother like a security blanket, and prays for his sissy to give him some attention.
All these characters work in synchronicity to craft a tale that touches on a million influences and themes, inspiring a multitude of interpretations and discussions. So many, in fact, that reading the novella is apt to shine some light into the corners that the film left untouched. Still, with its occult notions and dysfunctionality, the unusual blend offers Horror fans a doomsday tale with heart. For all of the above, Cryptic Rock gives We Need To Do Something 3.5 of 5 stars.