A Fantastic Fest 2022 Review
When the first pandemic-set horror films started being announced in 2020, many of us collectively recoiled. At a time when COVID dominated every aspect of our lives, we wanted escapism, not a reminder of our grim reality. Sick is the exception that proves the rule, a wildly entertaining slasher film that, while inextricably linked to the pandemic, is more concerned with white-knuckle chase scenes than it is with epidemiology.
Sick takes place entirely on the 3rd of April, 2020, and this date is significant. We’re transported back to a time when stay-at-home orders had been issued across many locations, but the promise of a vaccine was still a long way off. The public knew enough about how the virus spread to sanitize and social distance, but unhelpful measures, like wiping down groceries, were still widespread. People wore masks in public, yet pulled them down to wipe their noses with their hands.
As such, Sick is something of a time capsule of a movie, capturing a very specific moment of fear and frustration, paranoia and hypocrisy. After a tense opening kill, the film introduces us to Parker (Gideon Adlon) and Miri (Bethlehem Million), college roommates who travel to the Parker family’s luxurious lake house to quarantine in style. Miri, a med student, is worried about catching COVID and passing it on to her father, but Parker seems far less concerned. Her privilege is showing, but Adlon’s performance is charming enough to make Parker likeable against the odds.
Sick was directed by John Hyams and written by Kevin Williamson, who also wrote the first two Scream movies. Williamson’s knack for crafting killer chase scenes hasn’t dulled in the intervening years, with his script managing to keep the location fresh despite the isolated setting. Characters tear through the house at breakneck speed, crashing out into the woods, escaping onto the lake, and scrambling through windows and across rooftops. They also make the kind of smart decisions that are all too rare in slasher films, like at least attempting to drive away after their tyres are slashed.
These elements make Sick feel fresh in the same way that Scream did back in 1996, despite Williamson dipping into his old box of tricks from time to time. His signature vein of humour runs through the film, but that doesn’t make the kills any less brutal.
The ending is sure to be divisive, and when you learn the motivation behind the attacks, early scenes of characters receiving creepy texts feel out of place. But overall, Sick is a fast, fun thrill ride that’s guaranteed to make you wince at least once.
Words: Samantha McLaren (@themeatispeople)