In "Sisterhood of Night," a tale of teenage girl empowerment comes cloaked in the generic trappings and gothic stylization of a high school witch film, a la the '90s film "The Craft."
"Sisterhood" stars Georgie Henley as the charismatic and brooding Mary, who, spurred by an altercation with blogger Emily (Kara Hayward), starts a mysterious and secretive girls club with her two best friends, Catherine (Willa Cuthrell-Tuttleman) and Lavinia (Olivia DeJonge), meeting in the woods in the dead of night.
Emily, shut out of the group, starts a nasty online rumor that spreads like wildfire in their small town, gathering steam with an uncontrollable momentum and disastrous consequences. The film has an odd pace to it, relying on genre expectations to hurtle headlong into the story initially, but it ultimately ends up defying those expectations with its messages about online bullying, predatory media and more.
Kal Penn has a supporting role as a guidance counselor, and though he isn't given much to do — aside from being the most sane adult in the group of hapless parents and administrators — he proves that he should be on screen more often.
What director Caryn Waechter does best is artfully and lyrically capture moments of teenage abandon where the girls feel free, self-possessed and full of friendship love. Though the story relies too much on clichés and many characters lack believable intent for their actions, the film has a decidedly strong girl-power message.
"Sisterhood of Night."
MPAA rating: PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexuality, prescription drugs, suicide, teen abuse, language.
Running time: 1 hour and 44 minutes.
Playing: Burbank Town Center 8