THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT [Edinburgh Film Festival]

PrintE-mail Written by Andrew Marshall

Tired of the ubiquitous online presences of their peers, a group of schoolgirls opt to abandon their digital lives and instead meet up in the woods in secret at night. When a classmate makes allegations against them, doubts over what they’ve been doing begin to be voiced, while the wall of silence they offer up in response only serves to make people more suspicious as events begin to spiral out of control.

The Sisterhood of Night is a film that could not have been made before now. Only in the information age where the minutiae of people’s lives are plastered online for all too see, can the conscious choice to remove yourself from social media be seen as unusual, and the decision to not talk about what you do with groups of friends be seen as suspicious.

In the beginning, the film’s reticence to relate exactly what it is the girls are doing during their nocturnal woodland excursions is a little frustrating, but after a while you realise that’s precisely the point. The teenage omertà is what binds the girls together, and to break it to any outsiders goes against the core of their understanding. When the truth is ultimately revealed everything becomes clear, and the revelation serves to reinforce the dangers of leaping to conclusions based on misunderstandings and assumptions.

It’s stated from the outset that the story end in tragedy and the news-style interviews of several characters from after the fact add further mystery over how events escalated from a trio of girls meeting in secret to an all-out modern day witch hunt. They are accused of being everything from witches to devil worshippers to a lesbian sex cult, and as the media fervour descends upon the unsuspecting town, unethical journalists blow every small detail way out of proportion for the sake of sensation, adding further fuel to an already volatile situation.

An interesting moral grey area comes from the girl who made the initial accusations. After sharing her alleged experiences on her blog, the site slowly grows into an online haven for victims of sexual abuse, a safe space for them to open up about the things that have been done to them. Whatever you make of her using her claims to attain the attention she originally craved, you can’t argue that at least in this respect she has done some good.

The Sisterhood of Night is a story of witch hunting in the modern age, where online abuse can prove just as deadly as the inquisitor’s pyre. And like those trials of centuries previous, the most galling thing is not what may or may not have been done, but the obstinate refusal of people to even consider anything other than their preconceived notions, along with what they do to go about proving them.

THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: CARYN WAECHTER / SCREENPLAY: MARILYN FU / STARRING: GEORGIE HENLEY, KARA HAYWARD, WILLA CUTHRELL, OLIVIA DEJONGE, KAL PENN, LAURA FRASER / RELEASE DATE: TBC

Expected Rating: 6 out of 10
Actual Rating:


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