Sick Girl opens with a bang as we meet Izzy, a young woman dressed in shorts and a wife beater that also happens to be covered in dirt and blood. She hops aboard a school bus full of nuns and school girls (why she’s picked up at all we’re never told), and is quickly annoyed with those around her, prompting her to assault one of the nuns. She’s kicked off of the bus, but lucky for her a new ride is right around the corner: two guys that are following the bus, as the driver’s girlfriend is on board and they're in the midst of a little game. The passenger sees Izzy as “easy pussy”, so they pull up to pick her up. Izzy isn’t as easy as she looks though, slashing the passenger’s throat, kidnapping the driver, and jacking the car so she can catch up to the school bus and have herself a little killing spree.
She doesn’t kill everyone though, taking a select few back to the ranch in which she lives and tying them up in a barn. Izzy lives on the ranch with her little brother Kevin. Their parents are deceased, and Izzy is head of household until her older brother Tommy returns from a tour of duty. An old family friend Barney helps Izzy out with household chores and looking after Kevin. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that Izzy is cracking up, and if they know what’s good for their health, they’ll figure it out before it’s too late.
After having just watched Sick Girl a few days before writing this, I’m already experiencing a bit of Alzheimer’s when trying to remember it. All said, the film is pretty forgettable. It’s also hard to actually pull any sort of point out of it, other than to build to a gory, torture-filled climax. The film starts off damn strong (outside of some unneeded water sports), with Izzy slicing throats, taking hostages, and basically derailing an entire bus full of school girls and nuns. But then what we get for the remainder of the film borders on a family drama, one dealing with the loss of parental figures and Izzy’s struggle of juggling an ordinary, everyday life with her little brother while letting off some steam torturing hostages in the barn out back. After the in-your-face beginning, this is not what you’ll be expecting. Maybe it would have worked if we found out why Izzy decided to do what she did to the members of the school bus, but we never do, so it’s hard to defend the film as being anything more than shock cinema just for the sake of it.
And when you finally get to some of the more extreme sequences late in the film, you’ll fully realize the film’s purpose is to shock, and little else. Rather than attempt to create a disturbing atmosphere, director Eben McGarr chooses to go as over-the-top as he can with the torture elements; have you ever wanted to see a guy's dick chopped off and then watch as it's used to rape a chick? Well, your prayers have finally been answered! The gore FX are respectable in these scenes, but it’s all a little too much, and with no semblance of a back story (what’s there is laughably underdeveloped), you’ll get a sense that the movie is just a vehicle for McGarr to string together some nasty set pieces.
The acting is pretty amateur from everyone involved, even for an indie horror flick. Line delivery lacks any emotion, and it feels like most of the actors are reading right off of cue cards tucked away just beyond our field of vision; even Stephen Geoffreys of Fright Night fame dials in his cameo. Surprisingly, the technical aspects are solid; the look of the movie is a bit more film-like than one would expect from something like this, and the synth-heavy soundtrack is nicely effective. There’s some unfortunate use of CGI at work, and everyone involved really should have known better. When Izzy sets a car on fire, it looks as if it was done as a first-year project in an Adobe Flash class.
After a rip-roaring opening act, Sick Girl just fails to deliver in nearly every aspect it attempts. While below-par acting and copious amounts of unapologetic gore may have been more acceptable if the film was tongue-in-cheek and fun (as in Synapse’s other recent indie horror release Header), the choice to try and crowbar a dramatic morality play in between the depravity was a bad decision due to a lack of strong actors capable of pulling it off, and the film obviously suffers because of it. Not even hardcore gorehounds are likely to enjoy this one.
Synapse Films presents Sick Girl on DVD in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. It’s a solid presentation given the source material, although the brighter scenes can be a bit harsh and there’s occasional digital noise. The included Dolby Digital 2.0 track is decent, if a little unbalanced. Dialogue is sometimes much lower than the sound effects and music, so you may find yourself adjusting the audio at times.
Extras include a 12 minute featurette entitled “Death By…”, which features star Leslie Andrews talking about her photography series in which she photographs herself dead in odd situations. Stephen Geoffreys gets a 10 minute interview, and he talks about his short work on the film and his enthusiasm for the horror genre. Rounding out the extras is a damn funny faux public service announcement that sees Izzy shut up noisy theatergoers, a short outtakes reel, and two different trailers for the film.
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