“You’re not safe inside.”
Director: John Hyams / Writers: Kevin Williamson & Katelyn Crabb / Cast: Gideon Adlon, Bethlehem Million, Dylan Sprayberry, Joel Courtney, Marc Menchaca, Jane Adams.
Body Count: 6
It’s funny how some reactions to any media that chooses to incorporate elements of the COVID pandemic attract people who slate it for this reason only, because they believe it was a hoax/overwrought or whatever. It doesn’t mean that what happened around the world didn’t happen or should be erased from history just because some quarters don’t believe it was real… Spoilers ensue.
Regardless of your stance on the virus, or how it was handled where you live, Kevin Williamson (co)wrote this scaled down, cat-and-mouse heavy little slasher pic, which takes place at the start of the pandemic in April 2020. In a nice reflection of Williamson’s go-to Scream openings where a young woman is tormented and then murdered, a college age man padding around the empty shelves of a grocery store, navigating the arrows on the floor, keeping his distance – he then receives an anonymous text message which seems like it’s from someone he knows… someone who’s in the same store…
He’s summarily attacked and slain and we skip to a couple of college girls exiting campus to stay at a remote lakehouse Parker’s father owns. Her friend, Miri, is slightly more serious about precautions but the girls kick back at the lush cabin until Parker receives a strange, anonymous text. She blocks the number and the day goes on. Then a truck pulls up and someone starts banging at the door.
Turns out it’s Parker’s frat boy love interest, DJ, who is concerned she’s not into him as much as he is into her. Peeved by the incursion, the girls let him stay on the couch but it soon becomes clear there’s another person in the house. The stalker attacks and the kids flee and much of the remainder of the Sick is largely tense chase scenes as the girls crawl through broken windows, across rooftops, fall, swim, break in, break out and eventually come face to face with their assailant.
Curiously, a few of the negative reviews I read did the usual thing of saying the characters are dumb, however instead of striking the killer and knocking him out, then dropping the weapon and tottering off, Parker continues pounding the fuck out of him until no amount of CPR is going to help. Elsewhere, the girls do not hesitate the strike back with violence when needed, rather than run and cower.
At a tight 77-ish minutes (plus credits), Sick only really applies the brakes and head-tilting ‘huh?’ moment when it comes down to meeting the killers and learning their motive, which, rather than the potentially frighteningly simple psycho making the most of the lockdown, all comes down to the breadcrumb trail of a fatal COVID infection. It feels like the film could have made a little more out of the situation, although a scene where a possible rescuer refuses to let a fleeing victim into their car if they’re not wearing a mask was strangely hilarious.
Still, it affords Williamson to recall Laurie Metcalf’s iconic Mrs Loomis histrionics to a slightly lesser degree and a possible homage to Friday the 13th the killers are named Pamela and Jason.
The minimalist approach of the project shows just how much can be achieved using so little.