The premise of Sick is strikingly simple. Parker (Gideon Adlon) and Miri (Bethlehem Million) — the first a party girl with little to no interest in following COVID protocol, the second a responsible teen who wants to stay safe and follow health guidelines — are best friends. When they head up to a cabin to kill socially distanced time, they are quickly disrupted by Parker’s ex-boyfriend, followed by a handful of killers with a vendetta.
It is inevitable at this point that there are going to be some movies “about” the COVID pandemic. It is also inevitable that they are not all going to have much to say — at least successfully or interestingly — about a slice of time that we are not yet out of, nor that we understand the future health-oriented, social, and political effects of. Though movies that launch from the point of being “about” some definitive theme such as this can often be the most grating, in many senses, a ridiculous little slasher film like Sick is the best possible vessel for this sort of commentary. Slashers are notorious for being able to take themselves and their themes unseriously and thus not bludgeon us with some stale commentary as the center of the film, but instead have it simmer in the background.
However, the heart of Sick sort of feels like it has no idea what it’s saying. Our villains are revealed to be people horrified by the idea of a careless society shrugging off COVID protocol and putting other people’s lives at risk. While the joke is supposed to be that their response is (obviously) a drastic overcorrection, I’m not totally sure what the point is supposed to be. Is it that our great modern fear is that some outside force will punish us for transgressing coronavirus guidelines, instead of feeling the urge to stay relatively safe for the sake of our community?
Sick certainly does have its fun moments. Some of the kills are good, and the various attempted escapes and chase scenes balance between scary and exciting. The film has the added pressure of being written partially by Scream’s Kevin Williamson, so we expect it to play with conventions a little — and, in terms of slasher conventions and what it brings to the genre, it effectively twists and toys with notions of final girlhood and expected killers.
It is, at the end of the day, just a goofy slasher, so there’s no real point in harping on strange messaging — in cases like these, it’s a real take-it-or-leave-it situation. To be frank, Sick didn’t really stick with me all that much after watching, and its messaging, even in its silliness, felt lacking. But if you’re going in to watch a few good kills and a few fun, playful little tropes, this film will absolutely get the job done.