We Need to Do Something (2021) But Do We Need to See This Film?
Title: We Need to Do Something
First Non-Festival Release: September 3, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Sean King O’Grady
Writer: Max Booth III
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Starring: Sierra McCormick, Vinessa Shaw, Pat Healy
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
A freak storm traps a dysfunctional family in a spacious bathroom as irritating phone notifications alert them of the present danger. Initially, they believe this to be an overreaction at worst. Melissa (Sierra McCormick) is more irritated than scared with the situation, mostly because she cannot text her girlfriend, Amy (Lisette Alexis). Her annoyance deepens when her father (Pat Healy) loses her phone when trying to open the bathroom door after the storm surges to much angrier than anticipated levels. Now she’s stuck with him, her mom (Vinessa Shaw), and younger brother (John James Cronin) with no communication to the outside world. Trapped behind a seemingly impenetrable fortress of a fallen tree, an oak wood door, cement, and tempered glass, the family is left to stew in their grievances as weird things happen in the aftermath.
We Need to Do Something is high concept horror that doesn’t quite capitalize on its wild premise.
It’s clear that the production team plays up the angle of sound here and is the film’s crowning jewel achievement. The tornado sirens and the tornado itself make for a strong opening. It’s the silence afterwards that makes it scarier. Wouldn’t the neighbors hear their screams? What about rescue efforts? This idea is utilized well here and makes for good psychological horror. If anything, more would have been great. It’s clear that the unknown is the major factor for what makes We Need to Do Something work.
The story oscillates between the family’s situation and Melissa’s misadventures with her girlfriend Amy, which might provide better insight for the horrors they are experiencing. It doesn’t quite work with this setup. The idea itself is interesting, and honestly quite terrifying, but it takes away from what could be the tension and isolation of a single setting once it inevitably drags about halfway through. I appreciate that not everything is explained away. There’s plenty of ambiguity that makes it creepier and much more surreal, especially the ending.
Another barrier to success comes from the film’s dialogue, which gets repetitive and irritating quickly. This could be intentional to mimic the monotony of being stuck in a room with your family. Unfortunately, the effects translate to the film itself. By default, the audience is programmed to relate most to Melissa. She’s a typical angsty teen who still cares about her family. She gets lost in her own feelings for a girl who may not appear to be who she claims to be. The rest of the family falls into typical archetypes in family horror.
Performances vary between the cast members, but they all largely deliver when they need to do so. Sierra McCormick is the most consistent, playing the cool teenager with a melting icy façade. Pat Healy, who plays the unhinged patriarch, nails some scenes and just looks silly in others. It’s understandable. The material is hard to pull off convincingly when someone is forced to yell obscenities to play up the broken family dynamic. Vinessa Shaw’s Diane brings some moments of coolness despite some shakiness in delivery and John James Cronin plays the annoying little brother with enough good-natured charm.
We Need to Do Something is a mixed bag that above all else surprises the viewer. Dark and creepy, it fully commits to its insane concept and works hard to sell it to the audience, no matter how skeptical one might be going into it. There are some cool moments involving red flashing lights and some initial storm photography, but otherwise it’s a relatively static film. The bathroom feels too opulent for believability purposes. It does provide a purpose for the story, and it looks cool. Sure, it may not be realistic given the characters and the town they live in, but it makes for some decent scares.
A commendable effort in pseudo-Lovecraftian horror, We Need to Do Something is another case of great idea, so-so execution. Over-the-top acting and flaccid pacing make it hard to take seriously even though there are plenty of worthy scare scenes bubbling with potential. What kills it the most, however, is the stagnancy of the action. Single location horror films often fall into this trap where the plot gets bogged down by the natural confines of its situation. If you’re looking for an average supernatural horror film with a bit of twist, check it out. Otherwise, you may need to do something else for movie night.
Overall Score? 5.5/10