Sick

Screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who many will recognize as the screenwriter of classic horror films such as Scream 1-4 and I Know What You Did Last Summer, makes his return to the slasher subgenre with Sick. Co-written by Katelyn Crabb and directed by John Hyams (Alone, Black Summer), Sick is a horror film that takes place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when much of the country was shut down and people were ordered to isolate in their homes. When two college friends leave their closed campus to quarantine in a remote cabin together, they soon discover a masked intruder is out for their blood.

Now that we’re yet another year of the pandemic, it’s only natural we’re starting to see more horror films incorporating it into their plots. There have been misses, but there have been plenty of hits as well including The Harbinger and Host. I’m happy to say that Sick is another successful addition to that list. With how long we’ve been dealing with COVID at this point, it’s odd to watch and remember people’s reactions when everything first went into lockdown. Especially for many younger people, there was a general sense the virus wasn’t a big deal, and the lockdown just meant a couple of weeks off school or work. This mindset can be seen in the character Parker. Played by the delightful Gideon Aldon (The Craft: Legacy, The Society), Parker is the free-spirited party girl who is only just starting to take the lockdown somewhat seriously. When it comes to her friend Miri, played by Bethlehem Million (And Just Like That…), she is much more cautious and adamant about taking precautions because she has immunocompromised loved ones. It seems that Miri is likely a large part of why Parker is beginning to be more conscious of wearing a mask and social distancing.

There is so much to enjoy about this plot. The two protagonists feel like real, dynamic characters audiences can relate to. Williamson and Crabb also do a wonderful job of creating a pandemic-themed slasher film. There are some great surprises leading up to the climax, ensuring audiences will be at the edge of their seat. Sick also does a wonderful job of showing the various mindsets people had at the start of the lockdown and highlighting the importance of personal accountability when it comes to health and safety in a pandemic. That being said, there are issues with the plot. Without getting into any spoilers, the film shows the extremes of people who were careful at the beginning of the pandemic compared to those who were not. For the most part, the film is successful in showing both groups in a somewhat negative or critical light, but it can come across as vilifying individuals who were the most careful about stopping the spread of COVID. It felt like an odd choice given the political climate still circling the pandemic.

What really makes Sick enjoyable, aside from the tension-filled plot, is the performances. Aldon is someone I hope we see more of in horror. She has this endearing quality about her, so even when she’s out partying (when she should be isolating), you can’t help but love her. She makes it clear that Parker isn’t a bad person; she is just young and makes some naive mistakes. Normally, that would be perfectly okay for a college student. But unfortunately, in a pandemic world, being young and dumb can lead to deadly consequences. Million is also lovely as Miri. She brings a rationality and kindness to a film that could otherwise be looked at as mean-spirited. The chemistry between Aldon and Million is wonderful to watch. They come across as true longtime friends, which makes the audience care more about their fate.

The film takes place mostly in a single location. This location is a large, luxurious cabin in the middle of nowhere. The nearest neighbor is miles away. If that isn’t a perfect place to stalk and murder someone, I don’t know what is. The location allows for technology to be rendered relatively useless, which always makes slasher movies more frightening since we all know there’s no hope of help arriving anytime soon. Sick couples the tension of isolation with the terror of a masked killer, as well as some great action sequences and practical effects. There is one kill specifically in this film that had my jaw on the floor. It is the kind of thing that looks so real, you can’t help but wonder how they pulled it off. I would expect nothing less from a slasher film co-written by Williamson.

Sick is a fast-paced, tense slasher with characters, both heroes and villains, that blur the lines between what makes a person good versus evil. It perfectly incorporates the pandemic in the early stages of lockdown and forces the audience to put themselves in the shoes of each character and their differing reactions to COVID-19. Williamson and Crabb prove to be a great screenwriting duo, and Hyams does an excellent job of bringing those words to life. While I believe the overall “message” isn’t entirely clear, Sick still proves to be a fun slasher delivering entertainment and suspense.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s