From the early reviews coming in, it looks like Sean King O’Grady’s small-budget psychological horror is already splitting audiences. That’s probably unsurprising: We Need To Do Something seems a lot less interested in following the requirements of a horror sub-genre than it does in using the trappings of horror to explore our inadequacies in the face of… danger? Family conflict? Societal breakdown? No wonder the film’s title remains frustratingly vague and unhelpful.
Based on Max Booth III’s short story of the same name (who is also the film’s screenwriter), We Need To Do Something starts out with all the trappings of a disaster movie, with a family of four using their bathroom as a make-shift fallout shelter after hurricane warnings.The film, then, starts out with the breakdown of normality and quickly spirals out of control from there. Diane (Vanessa Shaw) and Robert’s (Pat Healy) marriage is already on the rocks while their daughter, Melissa (Sierra McCormick), is agitated and frustrated at having to come home at all and spends the time bickering with her brother Bobby (John James Cronin) and trying to message her girlfriend Amy (Lisette Alexis).
Things get stranger and stranger as the so-called hurricane collapses trees down around the house, trapping the family in their bathroom. This then leads (or perhaps they are unrelated events, who can be sure?) to several animal and human visitors that, to put it mildly, challenge the family’s sense of certainty in the world around them, as well as the viewer’s sense of narrative progression.
There is more than a little of Blasted, Sarah Kane’s postmodern take on trauma, here, and that is all for the good. Going beyond the similar spaces of confinement, as in Kane’s experimental theatre, We Need To Do Something similarly confronts the dissolving of the boundaries between inner and outer worlds, causing both the characters and viewers to wonder at times if their bathroom is now on the front line of an immanent (or perhaps ongoing) civil war.
We Need To Do Something should also be praised for big ambitions on a small scale and budget: apart from a few flashback scenes, the film is all shot a single room. Its make-up and visual effects team does a lot with very little: visceral close-ups of cuts and scars as well as a dog tongue (don’t ask) make it hard to watch at times. It feels almost unfair to mention it in advance, but Ozzy Osborne has a cameo role which was this reviewer’s highlight of the whole performance. To say more would be to take away the surprise.
Starting off with the signs of a disaster movie, We Need To Do Something soon veers off into a fever dream of character turmoil and conflict. Considering this is O’Grady’s directorial debut for a feature length work of fiction it will be very interesting to see where he goes next. Unsettling and mesmerising, it has certainly convinced me of the need to do something, although I must confess I’m still not sure what it is.
We Need To Do Something is screening at the IFI Horrorthon on Monday the 25th of October.