‘Sew Torn’ Review — This Tangled, Twisty Thriller Is a Dark Delight


The Big Picture

  • Sew Torn
    is a scrappy thriller that relies on creative thinking over big spectacle.
  • The film follows Barbara, played by Eve Connolly, as she faces escalating dangers with each decision she makes.
  • Connolly’s performance shines, capturing Barbara’s weariness and desperation in three distinct vignettes.

There is something wonderfully scrappy about a film like Sew Torn that can regrettably feel all too rare in the modern movie landscape. While clearly expanded from a short with the best and most glorious gag getting carried over, it manages to find plenty of new fun avenues to explore. It is a tight thriller that successfully wraps you up in its vision without relying on big spectacle as much as it does creative thinking. Sure, things blow up and people die, though it is the way we get there via each precisely constructed that provides the spark. Even when it can start to feel like it is a little confined, writer-director Freddy Macdonald continaully discovers something unexpected in how he stitches it all together in his feature debut. When paired with a strong performance by Eve Connolly of series like Vikings and Into the Badlands, the film becomes something that shouldn’t be slept on.

What Is ‘Sew Torn’ About?

Image via SXSW

This is all built around “The Mobile Seamstress” Barbara Duggen (Connolly) whose life is about to become completely upended when she stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong on the side of the road. The problem is, as the film traces along multiple paths, she always seems to find disaster no matter what decision she makes. Whether she decides to try to make off with the money herself, report the crime to the police, or just drive away, trouble always follows her. What could feel like a bit of a gimmick is instead taken seriously and, as we come to know, ends up revealing how sometimes there are no good choices that are left to us. You see, Barbara is struggling financially and trying to keep her business afloat after the loss of her mother. She keeps parts of the matriarch with her via voice recordings, but she is having to navigate the now even more painful parts of this world alone. The film is still very much about the entertaining sense of chaos that she keeps stumbling into, with each having its own distinct setting and cast of characters, though this solid emotional foundation gives the film a surprising weight when we see things end in tragedy after tragedy for Barbara.

That only makes it all the more thrilling when we see her turning the tables on the situations she finds herself in. The best moment of this is the aforementioned part that carries over from the short. This is where Barbara uses an elaborate thread to pull things in a specific way that is simple though no less spectacular to see come together. There are plenty of other parts that are more elaborate than this, but nothing is quite able to replicate the feeling you get when everything clicks into place just at the right time. There is the one portion in the middle when Barbara is at her most immobile that gets borderline cartoonish, though it doesn’t cut quite as deeply as a result. Thankfully, the film gets back on track for an ending part that hones in more on character and the tension that can come from just a conversation that is on the edge of bursting into violence. The precise reasons why everything is happening is conventional crime thriller stuff, as we learn of a betrayal that is at the core of what is unfolding, but that is less important than how Barbara must find a way to break free of it all. What does it matter the why when she just wants to find a way to go back to her life? To answer this question, look no further than the film’s central performance.

Eve Connolly Crushes It in ‘Sew Torn’

Eve Connolly as Barbara Duggen staring up at something offscreen in Sew Torn.
Image via SXSW

Some unnecessary narration here and there aside, Connolly is excellent in Sew Torn. She must capture cleverness, desperation, and bravery in the face of this maze she has fallen into. While Barbara is unaware that she is going back through multiple different paths, the way Connolly captures a sense of increasing weariness as things keep escalating is exactly what the film needs. When the eventual answer reveals itself as to how she may escape, it almost seems like it could be casting some sort of judgment about how she ended up where she did. However, without tipping anything off, we see via slight shifts in Connolly’s performance a feeling that is closer to letting go. It isn’t some sort of earthshakingly profound moment that alters much of what preceded it, but it is a fitting one that ties together nicely.

The question with a film like this is whether it could stick the landing, especially when it telegraphed where some of the final shots of each path would be. This manages to not only do so, but it moves beyond the rules it set up for itself to find an entirely different direction to go down. If you were racking your brain to try to find a way out of the situation Barbara found herself in, it’s hard to imagine that you’d predict the way it does so here. While unpredictable movies are not always good just because it catches you off guard, this one offers a pleasant surprise that also makes total sense in retrospect. As we see in the film, sometimes the only way to win is not to play in the first place. What makes Sew Torn work is you’re on board for every moment where Macdonald and Connolly are themselves playing around along the way.

Sew Torn 2024 Film SXSW Promo Image

Sew Torn (2024)


Sew Torn is a scrappy film that finds thrills from creativity rather than spectacle.


  • Writer-director Freddy Macdonald manages to find something unexpected in how he stitches it all together in his feature debut.
  • There are moments that are simple yet still spectacular to see click into place at just the right time.
  • Eve Connolly gives an excellent performance, capturing a range of emotion from desperation to bravery.

  • The film has some unnecessary narration here and there.
  • The middle portion of the film doesn’t cut quite as deep.

Sew Torn had its World Premiere at the 2024 SXSW Film & TV Festival.


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