It’s never wholly fair to dismiss a movie just because it’s unpleasant to sit through. But that’s a good place to start with “We Need to Do Something.”
This horror star vehicle for Sierra McCormick (“Pretty Little Stalker,” “American Horror Story” and “The Vast of Night”) is a gooey, meandering supernatural thriller that’s on its surest ground at its simplest — before all the Young Goths In Love business of spells, curses and digging up graves because that’s what your “I used to be a cutter/I used to be dead” girlfriend (Lisette Alexis) wants.
But it’s easier to sell a “sexy teen lesbians bring on the Apocalypse” pitch, I guess.
We meet Mel (McCormick), her testy and tippling Dad (Pat Healy), had-enough Mom (Vinessa Shaw) and antic, nerdy little brother (John James Cronin) in the family bathroom, riding out a tornado.
The little nerd keeps suggesting its “an F5.” Mom reassures him it’s not, repeats the story of the day he was born to comfort him and dodges phone calls and texts from….someone.
“I think…something BAD might be happening.” As in this is no ordinary storm.
A few shrieks at thunderclaps later, a tree crashes on their roof and and blocks their way out. Fine. Wait it out. Call for help when the worst has passed.
Dad has just enough left in his travel mug to keep the edge off. Mom frets but figures it’ll all be fine. Mel’s nerves are fraying because she can’t get Amy to text back.
And little Bobby is seeing a snake. And then he’s hearing a dog. And then something supernatural happens, and Dad’s tipsy tirade that “it’s not the END of the GOD—–d world” seems a tad premature.
The compact melodrama within that bathroom, even with the supernatural menace that seems piled on top of the natural ones, is where the suspense lies. Survival might depend on the water staying on, eating whatever’s at hand, shouting for help, improvising and working the problem as the family comes unraveled.
Dad’s “survival,” in between tantrums, might depend on whether or not that mouthwash is “alcohol free.”
But we need flashbacks to what Mel believes caused all this, the first blush of high school love between the over-accessorized Amy and “Blade Runner” eye-makeup Mel, and what they do to punish those who would interfere with their romance.
“We Need to Do Something” doesn’t invent a set of horror rules and play by them, doesn’t get much accomplished between big (ok, middling) frights and leans on titillation more than it should.
Whatever pathos the picture might have generated is frittered away as is the suspense as flashbacks release whatever tension that trapped-in-a-bathroom scenario offers.
A line like Amy’s portentous “You can’t fix the inevitable” might apply to the debut script of Max Boot III, who doesn’t appear to be related to the famous Max Boot, conflict pundit and author.
But they threw a pretty good cast and some decent, gruesome and disturbing effects at it, even if all they managed to accomplish was “unpleasant.”
MPA Rating: unrated, graphic, gory violence
Cast: Sierra McCormick, Pat Healy, Vinessa Shaw, John James Cronin and Lisette Alexis
Credits: Directed by Sean King O’Grady, script by Max Booth III. An IFC Midnight release.
Running time: 1:36