Review: We Need to Do Something Doesn’t Do Enough to Exploit Audience Fears

We Need to Do Something mainly succeeds at suggesting a more compelling film beyond its bathroom walls.

We Need to Do Something

Based on screenwriter Max Booth III’s novella of the same name, Sean King O’Grady’s We Need to Do Something focuses on teenage Melissa (Sierra McCormick) dealing with the horror of all horrors: being trapped in an enclosed space with her parents, Diane (Vinessa Shaw) and Robert (Pat Healy), and little brother, Bobby (John James Cronin). Seeking shelter from a storm, the family piles into their suburban home’s very large bathroom, only for their shelter to become a potential tomb when a tree crashes through the house and blocks the bathroom door. Melissa worries that whatever is happening is “more than just a storm,” and her strange paranoia eventually comes to feel true as the days pass and they hear little of the outside world beyond blowing leaves and the occasional strange noises.

We Need to Do Something certainly takes its time reaching the point where Melissa’s suspicions are confirmed—all the better to wade through so much familial strife, and in ways that are as conspicuous as the size of the bathroom where the story plays out. Drinking something from his thermos that’s obviously not just coffee, Robert is presented as a generally foul doomsayer, insisting that the exasperated Diane tell him who keeps calling her on the phone before the line conveniently dies. “All things come to an end,” Robert says with a meaningful look toward his wife, clearly referring to the state of their marriage.

Every single detail in the film is laid out with a neat legibility that recalls a self-contained episode of an anthology series, from an unhinged Robert’s outbursts of profanity to the way that Melissa’s pink hair and eyeshadow mark her as rebellious, like her even-more-goth girlfriend (Lisette Alexis) whom we glimpse in flashbacks. A film ostensibly provides more room to explore storytelling subtleties and character nuances than even your most ambitious bottle episode, but We Need to Do Something only flattens the domestic friction that’s meant to serve as the foundation for the film’s eventual move into horror. It also doesn’t help that no sense of before is conjured by the filmmakers—that is, of a time when this family unit might have functioned, if not normally, then less as a vehicle for camera-ready drama.


Once the film does finally takes a dive into the strange and inexplicable, it grows sporadically gripping even when it seems to be overtly courting audience bafflement. We Need to Do Something conjures moments of real ingenuity involving witchcraft, snakes, bloody dreams, and severed tongues, but these decent standalone scares aren’t enough to sustain the film’s horror aspirations. With so much of its drama falling so flat, We Need to Do Something mainly succeeds at suggesting a more compelling film beyond its bathroom walls.

 Cast: Sierra McCormick, Vinessa Shaw, Pat Healy, John James Cronin, Lisette Alexis  Director: Sean King O’Grady  Screenwriter: Max Booth III  Distributor: IFC Midnight  Running Time: 97 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2021  Buy: Video

Steven Scaife

Steven Nguyen Scaife is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Buzzfeed News, Fanbyte, Polygon, The Awl, Rock Paper Shotgun, EGM, and others. He is reluctantly based in the Midwest.

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