It’s kind of mad that a new film written by Scream scribe and co-creator Kevin Williamson slipped out into the world unannounced this year. Sick, directed by John Hyams (director of the much loved, sadly overlooked Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning), is a pandemic horror, something we’ll probably see a lot more of over the next few years
After an opening bit of savage cat and mouse that’s pristine Williamson, Sick follows two students (Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million) who ditch campus at the height of Covid for the cosy luxury of a lake house. It isn’t long before the girls realise someone has followed them and has no intention of letting them self-isolate in peace.
Aside from the backdrop of pandemic, Sick is a typical slasher made decent by Williamson’s sharp script and Hyams’ energetic direction. The long takes he employed so well in Day of Reckoning are a perfect fit for the up-close scrambles between savage killer and desperate prey in Sick, keeping us on the edge of our seat with constantly evolving chase sequences. The film owes much to Gideon Adlon too, she embodies every bit of a Williamson heroine: sharp, smart, and deadly in her own right. In any fair world she has a hell of a career ahead of her in and out of genre cinema. Same goes for Jane Adams who, without spoiling anything, just about steals the whole show in the last 15 minutes.
Sick could have been all kinds of messy. How do you make a film everyone can enjoy without politicising something that became innately, dangerously politicised. How do you make a film like this without pissing off half the audience? The answer is in the tone, and Williamson perfectly balances the thrills, visceral intensity, and humour against the backdrop of Covid-19 without ever undermining or ridiculing the reality of the pandemic. Even in the big finale reveal.
Sick isn’t breaking any moulds or offering the kind of wit Williamson flaunts in the Scream films, but it is a perfectly brisk 80 minutes of fun. It’s a simple, straightforward, savvy, and breakneck slice of slasher which hits all the right beats for low-scares, high-tension.
Dir. John Hyams
Stars. Gideon Adlon, Bethlehem Million, Dylan Sprayberry, Marc Menchaca, Jane Adams,