If you had trouble sheltering in place with your family over this last year, just be thankful you weren’t all trapped together in one single room like the cast of We Need To Do Something. Directed by Sean King O’Grady, from a screenplay by Max Booth III, We Need To Do Something is the story of a suburban family forced to take cover after a severe weather storm comes knocking on their door. This family unit was already on the rocks, likely just one big blowout away from divorce court, but their disdain for each other is put on full display after a tree falls through the roof and traps them inside the master bathroom.
We Need To Do Something features an incredibly limited cast, partly because this is an incredibly indie horror movie and also because it was filmed amid the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. Like it or not, indie filmmaking has taken the main stage. And I’m not kidding when I say limited. The cast consists of only 5 actors, one of which we only see in fragments through flashbacks. The ambitious indie project really shows its budget and its limitations at times, but it does have a few tricks up its sleeve if you’re patient enough to make it through some heavy-handed dialogue, and several jarring flashbacks.
Ads are Scary
Nightmare on Film Street is independently owned and operated. We rely on your donations to cover our operating expenses and to compensate our team of Contributors from across the Globe!
If you enjoy Nightmare on Film Street, consider Buying us a coffee!
“…[We Need To Do Something has] a few tricks up its sleeve…”
The movie stars John James Cronin (NOS4A2) as Bobby, the annoying but sweet-hearted little brother to Sierra McCormick’s (The Vast of Night) Melissa, a too-cool for this family kind of teenage girl just trying to find enough cellphone reception to check on her goth girlfriend Amy, played by Lisette Alexis (Total Eclipse). Vinessa Shaw (Hocus Pocus) and Pat Healy (The Innkeepers) play Mom & Dad, respectively. Mom is clearly focused on her kids, counting down the days until they are both in college and she can flee this failed marriage, and let’s just say that Pat Healy’s character won’t be winning a Dad of The Year prize anytime soon.
The alert that has sent the whole family into a panic is unclear. We’ve heard sirens warning residents of incoming danger, and based on the grey, windy weather outside, it’s safe to assume that everyone is taking cover from a tornado. There’s a lot of shrugging around just how bad a category 5 tornado really is, which leads me to believe this is either a part of the United States that never sees tornados or that weird daredevil belt of the country where tornados are as common as stubbed toes. Regardless, something is happening and it doesn’t look good.
The family was already at each other’s throats but the in-fighting really begins after they discover the bathroom door has been jammed shut by a tree that fell through the roof. To We Need To Do Something‘s credit, the film almost never leaves the confines of the bathroom. Because of that, it almost plays out like a radio play or a stage production. Unfortunately, however, the film is plagued by an inability to “show without telling” and unpredictable performances that swing from one extreme to the other. Healy, McCormick, and Shaw have all done incredible work before and I have no doubt they will continue to do so, but there is little to connect with in between their bursts of rage and exhausted desperation. They’re simply doing their best with what they were given.
We Need To Do Something has the fevered pace of a movie made in a borrowed space, funded by pocket change. And that’s probably not far from the truth. I’m sure it’s a miracle this movie was even made, and I’m sure O’Grady & Booth III are proud of accomplishing the nearly impossible task. And kudos to them for seeing their vision through to the end, but you never see any of that on-screen when you watch a movie. You don’t know how hard people worked, or what compromises had to be made. You just see the story, and you just want to be entertained by it.
The story buried deep in the 2nd act of this single location thriller is worth the wait. I won’t spoil just what that revelation is, but when this dang movie takes a turn it’s like getting a double-shot of espresso pumped directly into your veins. It never managed to rise to that level again for me but the secret hidden at the core of this layered story is kind of brilliant. It is a bit rough whenever the story jumps back in time to reveal the cause of this catastrophe but it’s backed by a great concept that’ll pull you back in if your attention has wandered. It’s a fleeting feeling though because the third act of the movie is overstuffed with underwritten dialogue and extended exposition. Dialogue is your only strength in a single location thriller and if you aren’t pulled in by it, there’s no amount of cool ideas that will bring you back on board.
Radio plays have always been celebrated for painting a larger world in the mind’s eye and, at times, We Need To Do Something manages to do the same. We never see outside the bathroom (when we’re in it that is) but through sound design, we experience everything happening around this poor family. It makes for one hell of a good scare too but, unfortunately, it’s not enough. Healy runs amok as the shitthead-of-the-household, but mostly the characters wait around for something bad to happen between flashbacks that flesh out exactly what the eff is going on. I’ll always appreciate the “we need to do something” attitude that is responsible for all indie films, but We Need To Do Something really needed to do a little more with what is (admittedly) a very cool, evolving concept.
“…We Need To Do Something really needed to do a little more with what is (admittedly) a very cool, evolving concept…”
From IFC Midnight, Sean King O’Grady’s We Need To Do Something hits select theatres and VOD September 3, 2021. Be sure to let us know what you thought of this single-location indie horror, and what you would do if you were trapped in a bathroom with your family members, over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.