Sick (2022) Review
If nothing else, Sick certainly has an interesting creative team behind it. It’s co-written by Kevin Williamson, the man behind the Scream franchise as well as I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, and many others, and his personal assistant Katelyn Crabb. Even more of a draw for me however was director John Hyams whose credits include Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning and Alone. That pairing made the thought of yet another COVID lockdown themed film bearable.
The prologue certainly recalls Williamson’s past works as Tyler (Joel Courtney, Super 8, The Empty Man) is phone stalked while shopping in a near-empty store. Once he returns to his apartment he’s attacked by a masked assailant wielding a large, sharp knife.
It’s an effective segment, even if the killer looks more like a ninja than Ghostface, and segues nicely into the film’s main story. Its April 2020, and with their college closing down, friends Parker (Gideon Adlon, Witch Hunt, Pacific Rim: The Black) and Miri (Bethlehem Million, The Oh Gees, Flatbush Misdemeanors) decide to quarantine at a beach house, beach mansion really, owned by Parker’s family.
We can already sense a bit of friction between the two, Parker has issues with the safety precautions while Miri is worried about becoming contagious and infecting her father who already has medical issues. The arrival of DJ (Dylan Sprayberry, The Row, Malibu Horror Story), Parker’s on-again, off-again boyfriend who turns up trying to work things out with Parker only makes matters worse. That’s nothing however compared to the problems posed by their other uninvited guest.
While he was involved with the Netflix show Black Summer, Sick is Hyams’ first horror film, Alone being more of a horror-adjacent survival thriller. He shows a real talent for getting the most out of familiar set-ups such as an unexpected knock on the door or what might be a shadow at the edge of the frame.
It helps that he was working from a script by the man who re-invented the slasher and with cinematographer Yaron Levy who has a long list of genre credits including productions as varied as Torn Hearts, Scream: The TV Series, Fertile Ground, and Re-Kill. Hyams very confidently combines their talents with solid performances from the small cast to rachet up the suspense. He also draws on his experience with action films to make the most of the characters’ fights and confrontations with the killer.
While most of the kills in Sick are on the generic side with the killer favouring relatively bloodless throat slittings, there are a couple of standouts including one rather macabre death scene that will stick in your mind after the film is over. There’s also a tense chase through the woods, something Hyams could probably film in his sleep after Alone.
While Sick does suffer from a couple of twists that are well past the point of being a surprise and cliches such as people who don’t stay dead. But it’s the reveal of the motive for all of this that is most likely to elicit groans from the viewers. As you can guess from the film’s setting, COVID is involved, and the motive does make sense. But the way Williamson and Crabb implement it pushes the boundaries of credibility.
It’s too bad because Sick finishes with some energetic post-reveal mayhem. And that and what goes before it deserves a better justification than it gets. It’s nothing that can’t be handled with some suspension of disbelief, but a film that’s so good in other ways shouldn’t require this much of it. Sick is still very much worth seeing, but it falls short of being the film it could have been.
Sick is currently available on NBC Universal’s Peacock streaming service. Those in areas where it isn’t available can check with local streaming platforms.