“We Need to Do Something” intrigued me during its first 30 minutes but then started to frustrate me during next 60 minutes. Sure, I do not mind spending 90 minutes of my life on a few main characters suddenly stuck within an increasingly claustrophobic space, but the movie unfortunately spins its wheels despite a number of effective moments to be appreciated, and it only comes to leave rather hollow impressions as frustratingly vague about whatever is terrorizing its main characters out there.
After the ominous opening shot looking over a plain suburban area, the movie goes straight into the emergency situation surrounding one ordinary family living there. Because of a tornado warning, they must shelter themselves in a safe spot in their house just in case, and that spot happens to be the bathroom. As the situation seems to worsen outside, Robert (Pat Healy) and his wife Diane (Vinessa Shaw) become more nervous, and we can only guess from their strained interactions that they have some personal problem between them, though they do not mention that directly in front of their two kids Melissa (Sierra McCormick) and Bobby (John James Cronin).
Meanwhile, things indeed get quite worse outside, though, like the main characters of the film, we have no idea on what is really going on outside their house. It looks like a big tornado comes upon their neighborhood as warned, and their house is soon affected by that, but, at least, nothing particularly bad happens to them except a brief blackout.
However, once the circumstance seems to get back to normal later, they find themselves in a very serious problem. Probably due to that big tornado, a big tree outside their house happened to collapse into their house and then block the bathroom door, and they are virtually locked inside the bathroom as a consequence. Needless to say, they attempt to call for help via their smartphones, but their smartphones do not work at all for some unknown reason, and they have no choice but to wait for any possible help from the outside.
As time goes by without any possible chance for help, the mood among Robert and his family becomes more tense as they are more aware of how they are hopelessly stuck in the bathroom. While Robert and Diane come to conflict more with each other, Melissa and Bobby come to feel more uncomfortable than before, and Melissa’s mind is often drifted to what happened between her and her accidental best friend Amy (Lisette Alexis). Although their first encounter was not so pleasant to say the least, Melissa and Amy soon befriended each other as two fellow adolescent loners, and then they came to discover the growing mutual attraction between them.
Not so surprisingly, it gradually turns out that there is a good reason why Melissa cannot help but think of her relationship with Amy even as the circumstance becomes quite dire for her and her family. For solving a little private problem of theirs, Amy and Melissa tried to use a certain kind of black magic spell, but, of course, their attempt was followed by an incident much worse than they wished, and that seems to be connected with whatever Melissa and her family is going through right now.
While she keeps hesitating to tell everything to her family, Melissa and her family become more desperate and frustrated in addition to being menaced by something outside the bathroom. Again, we cannot see anything outside at all just like them, but the main performers are very convincing as their characters are frequently horrified in one way or another, and the movie also gives us a twisted moment of black humor when its main characters have no choice but to eat something quite unpleasant for solving their hunger problem.
As observing their claustrophobic situation, we cannot help but think of how much our life has been limited by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and you may come to understand and empathize a bit with their increasing stress and frustration, but the screenplay by Max Booth III, which is based on his novella of the same name, fails to develop its story premise further as going nowhere with its main characters. In addition to remaining adamantly opaque about the source of menace and terror surrounding them, it does not bring much depth to its main characters, and we come to observe from the distance what eventually happen among them during its rather uneven and jarring last act.
The main cast members of the film, some of whom incidentally participated in its production as executive producers, try their best with their underdeveloped roles, and they acquit themselves well on the whole. While Pat Healy, a wonderful character actor who has always been dependable since I noticed him in Craig Zobel’s “Compliance” (2012), and Vinessa Shaw dutifully hold the ground for Sierra McCormick’s good performance, John James Cronin and Lisette Alexis fill their respective spots as demanded, and you may be a little amused to find who provides a brief voice performance in the middle of the film.
Overall, “We Need to Do Something” works to some degree thanks to director Sean King O’Grady’s competent direction and the admirable efforts from his small cast, but it is still glaringly flawed in terms of story and characters. Although I did not feel like wasting my time during my viewing at last night, I still think it could do more than merely hanging on its barebone narrative, and I can only hope that O’Grady, who made a feature film debut here, will soon advance from this unsatisfying test run as a filmmaker with some potential.