In our world, three years seems like an eternity. Who remembers that just a few years ago, we would walk everywhere with a mask, avoid gatherings of more than five people, see our beloved team (Liverpool) win the Premier League after 30 years in front of an empty stadium, spend the holiday in Zoom with the family and calculate the distance to the nearest dog park from the house, so that we don’t run into an angry inspector who will claim that we exceeded the limits of the distance from the home, so we need to pay a fine and swear not to do it again for the sake of humanity. Today COVID-19 seems like a thing of the past, and thank God. Even if, in our world’s current reality, we have many other problems, it is worth enjoying the return to normality while it is here, at least in terms of health.
In this sense, the slasher film “Sick,” which presents two young women who choose to “self-isolate” in a remote cabin only to discover that someone is trying to murder them, brought me back to what I had already forgotten. What is more important is that the film, to a certain extent, also reminded me of what I like in the horror genre.
Welcome Back, Kevin Williamson
The most prominent name associated with the making of “Sick” is that the names behind it are certainly intriguing. If you spent your teenage years re-watching slashers with the fellas in the 90s, you owe Kevin Williamson a big thank you for spawning some of today’s most beloved horror franchises. He wrote the first four films of “Scream” and produced some of them, while in the last two films, he served “only” as the executive producer. In his screenwriting resume, you can also find “I know what you did last summer” (1997), “The Faculty” (1998), and “The Curse” (2005). His list of projects could be more extensive, certainly in recent years, so the new film he writes can raise expectations: You know, for a “Whodunit”-style slasher movie, with many reflexive references.
We have to mention the Williamson shares the writing credit with Katelyn Crabb. But since this is her first significant film project, so we only know a little about her or how much she was involved in the script, we will focus mainly on Kevin Williamson in this review. But we will try to mention Crabbe’s name in parentheses whenever we refer to the writing of “Sick.”
We move behind the camera, where we find John Hyams. This name may not tell you too much because this is a director who, for most of his career, mainly made action films of questionable quality, such as some of the sequels in the “Universal Soldier” series (yes, the one that started in the 90s with Jean-Claude Van Damme). But in 2020, he directed “Alone,” which managed to surprise in quite a few ways. Hyams took a reasonably generic plot from the simple thriller-horror genre, in which a woman is chased by a psychopath, but managed to keep the viewers captivated thanks to a fast pace, correct cinematography, and a successful script, in which the heroine, quite unusually in our regions, has little logic and common sense. This surprise pretty much raised the bar of my expectations when I sat down to watch “Sick.” And of course, it always exciting to see the familiar opening of the horror production company Blumhouse, responsible for many successful horror films of the last 15 years or so.
The Real Hazard of Quarantine: Being Chased By Killers
“Sick” opens in a way that might remind you of some of the movies we mentioned here. A young man (Joel Courtney from “Super 8” and “The Kissing Booth”) goes shopping at the supermarket, receives a disturbing text message, returns home, and is murdered by someone in a mask. We got a bit of a “Scream” vibe here, and not for the last time. This opening scene may seem “random” because most slashers must open with a murder that will introduce us to the killer for the first time and show that it is a slasher. Still, later in the film, we may discover that it is related in a certain way to our heroines.
Our heroines are a pair of friends who behave the way you expect young women to act these days: that is, they take a lot of pictures on Instagram, upload posts to social networks, and also do some other things from time to time, like talking to each other. Parker (Gideon Adlon, the disappointing “The Craft: Legacy”), recently separated from her boyfriend, goes with her best friend Miri (Bethlehem Million, who thankfully appears in the credits only as Beth Million) to an isolated family cabin. The period is April 2020, shortly after the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, and the panic is in full swing. Segars were not yet in the picture in the United States, but the two decided to enter quarantine voluntarily. They wear a mask even in the car, spray the air often, clean the food products and play a guessing game around Anthony Fauci, one of the prominent members of the White House’s task force for the Covid-19 crisis.
Suddenly a mysterious figure comes to the house, knocks on the door, and disappears. Those who have already watched movies of this type know that it is possible that this character is not the evil one, but someone the characters know, comes here uninvited and, for some reason, chooses to sneak into the house instead of entering it like a normal person. But don’t worry: very soon, they will also be chased by real killers, the ones with a whole package of a knife, a maks and extras. These chases will be done in an isolated location (probably), and without the ability to contact the outside world (like that!), so the film moves in the seam between a slasher and a “Home Invasion” film.
The truth is that during the film, I asked myself why exactly we need the references to the pandemic here. After all, making a character fights for her life in a confined and isolated location doesn’t take too many excuses and was done in dozens of films. “Sick” was also made after the return to normality, unlike films like “Host” that were made under the strict conditions of the closures, so the references to Covid-19 may, at first glance, seem like a gimmick or, at the very least, nostalgia.
In the second half of the film, things will become more evident with the revelation of the identity of the bad guys. Then we will discover that Kevin Williamson (well, and Crabb) has something critical to say about the pandemic. These are the moments in which the film also receives aspects of black humor, mainly thanks to one of the supporting characters. But beyond that, of course, we will not expand.
Test Results Of “Sick” Movie Review: Not Sick Enough
“Sick” is like a confirmed patient of the pandemic, without significant symptoms: the feeling is that he could have been a little better but also a lot worse. The film is pretty interesting, but there are some weak points in its script and the not-always-rational behavior of the heroines: you know, ignoring the danger even when it is tangible, making strange choices that are supposed to create tension, and the like. The acting of the mostly young cast is undoubtedly satisfactory, although no character is too memorable or has depth. The film corresponds well with the rules of the genre, but you won’t find here a thousand hints and ironic references to tangential cinema like in the world of “Scream” (really not sure that this is a disadvantage, according to the latest “Scream” films).
You can argue that at the script level, this is not one of Williamson’s masterpieces (uh, yes. And the other girl responsible for the writing), but even so, this level is higher than most slasher films produced today. Hyams manages to impress with the strengths he discovered in “Alone”: mainly the correct choice of fools, optimal use of the location, and effective tension building, partly by showing the gap between what the characters see and what is hidden from them. So it is a name that is worth following in the coming years, even if in this case the “horror” part of the film could be stronger. While there are a few scares or suspenseful moments here, it’s hard to argue that “Sick” manages to be “sick” at the level of horror or gore it is. The number of murders is limited, and you won’t see too many heart-wrenching scenes of severed limbs or blood splattering everywhere.
Ultimately, we recommend giving the film its chance because it only requires you to sacrifice a little of your time or intelligence. In a world where three years go by in a flash, and the pandemic is mostly a bitter memory, what are 80 minutes of a decent horror movie?
“Sick” (2022) – Full Details
Countries of Origin: United States
Director: John Hyams
Cast: Gideon Adlon, Beth Million, Dylan Sprayberry, Jane Adams, Joel Courtney
Runtime: 83 minutes
Box Office: Released on Peacock (no theatrical release)
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): R
IMDB Rating: 6.1