'Sick' review: Covid slasher delivers the goods
Courtesy of Peacock
Hard to imagine three years into the pandemic we’re still having art imitate the grim reality, and while most of the Covid centered films are usually shameless exploitation flicks (see: “Songbird” and “The Bubble”) some have managed to interweave the global crisis into solid little chillers (“Host” comes to mind). Now comes along “Sick,” a lean 80-minute slasher from the mind of “Scream” scribe Kevin Willamson (and co-writer Katelyn Crabb) who not only manage to spin the formula into a topical discussion on the early days of 2020 (remember when we were disinfecting our groceries?), but delivers a suspenseful home invasion thriller with more than a few twists and turns up its sleeve. It’s one of the few movies created out of the pandemic that entertains and has something to say.
Directed by John Hyams, “Sick” takes place in April 2020, where mandatory stay-at-home orders are enforced, people get pissed if you don’t have a mask, and students across the country are being sent home. For Parker (Gideon Adlon) and her best friend Miri (Bethlehem Million) that means “quarantining” at her family’s lavish (and remote) lake house. What should’ve been a harmless evening of taking a drink each time a CNN anchor says “Fauci,” becomes more dire when a masked killer, wielding a sharp knife, starts terrorizing the crew, which forces the squad to both fight for their lives and try understanding the motive behind the attack.
The idea of combining the tongue-and-cheek mad slasher genre Williamson helped cultivate alongside the real parallels of the pandemic are two things that should never work. But the end results of “Sick” is far more tense and satisfying than the surface might suggest. It also requires a fair amount of disbelief, but the stalking sequences, sinister text messages, and chases through the wilderness create an atmosphere of palpable suspense and, at a scant 80-minute runtime, the momentum never stops.
But when the explanation as to why our heroines are being preyed upon comes into focus, you may be asking yourself about the legitimacy of it all (again, suspend that disbelief!). It’s as if Williamson thinks he’s still breaking conventions in the same way “Scream” did 25 years ago. Alas, there’s no denying the jump scares, creative camera tactics and tightly edited final product is anything less than a good time. It’s a bummer that, in the age where horror thrives on the big screen, “Sick” will be dumped on a streaming service because this would’ve played gangbusters in a packed movie theater. Make sure to gather your friends and yell at the screen together.
SICK streams on Peacock Friday, Jan 13th.