Sick is everything I want in a slasher film. A plot grounded in reality, furiously fast pacing, multiple twists, and protagonists you can root for all clocking in at a perfectly lean 83 minutes.
Released Jan. 13 on the streaming platform Peacock, Sick is set in April 2020 during the uncertain early weeks of the COVID pandemic. A college student named Parker takes her best friend Miri to her family’s secluded lake house for a peaceful quarantine. It’s the old cabin-in-the-woods trope, but director John Hyams expertly creates an unnerving atmosphere and keeps the tension wound tight throughout the movie.
In the opening scene, a seemingly random college guy named Tyler is stalked by the masked killer before we meet Parker and Miri, two girls pumped up for a trip to the lake house. Sick features a trio of plot twists – only one you’re likely to see coming – and delivers constant suspense often lacking in slasher movies with longer runtimes. The killer does have an interesting motivation for murder, and it may be a little farfetched for some folks, but it adds a layer to the story and makes the film more of a cautionary tale.
Director Hyams often ratchets up the tension by masterfully using the background to let the audience see what’s behind the potential victims. Actress Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million are likable leads, playing Parker and Miri with gritty determination in the face of fear. Adlon carries the movie as Parker, realistically transforming from a casual partier to a scrappy final girl trying to survive.
Sick’s fight scenes between victim and killer may seem familiar and remind you of Sidney Prescott’s tangles with Ghostface in Scream. If they do, know that the writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, also wrote Sick.
Sick ranks up there with another of my favorite slashers, Mike Flanagan’s Hush from 2016. Not surprisingly, Hush was only 82 minutes long. Note to slasher filmmakers: Try to keep it under 90 minutes if you can.
I highly recommend Sick for horror and slasher fans who like their films with all killer and no filler.