Monday, January 16, 2023

Sick, on Peacock

You know when they lose Blumhouse, the Fauci school of pandemic management has lost the nation. Maybe they haven’t fully lost the studio chief, but screenwriter Kevin Williamson has a lot of ironic commentary to offer on the quarantine lock-down era, while staying true to his slasher roots. Unfortunately, two millennials can’t quarantine themselves from a home-invading slasher in John Hyam’s Blumhouse-produced Sick, which is now streaming on Peacock.

With the economic and educational shutdown of 2020 looming, entitled party girl Parker Mason and her judgy, strait-laced pal Miri Woodlow decide to quarantine in the luxury cabin owned by Mason’s dad. Basically, it looks Kevin Costner’s
Yellowstone character might live there, but there do not seem to be any guns in the house, which stretches credibility.

Of course, they both announce their every move on social media, so a tech-savvy stalker can easily follow them to Pop Mason’s cowboy McMansion. We can tell this psycho is effective, based on the murder he committed during the prologue. In this case, even Mason’s jealous hook-up, DJ Cole can crash their party. That means there are three potential victims, waiting to get hacked and slashed.

It is hard to explain the context without spoiling elements, but Williamson’s screenplay definitely skewers the compulsive masking experience. It also brings back embarrassing memories of Clorox wiping your groceries. Perhaps most incisively, it portrays the weird Covid-Puritanism (sometimes expressed by the likes of Howard Stern) that blamed victims and carriers. Arguably, the mystery slasher represents its fullest logical manifestation. However, all of Williamson’s inspiration is reflected in his razor-sharp dialogue, whereas the characterization largely falls back on flat stereotypes.

Regardless, experienced genre director John Hyams skillfully builds the tension and stages some hair-raising confrontations (even more so than he did in
Alone). As is Scream, the slasher (if there is only one) is definitely a mortal, who takes bumps and bashes just like the prospective victims. Indeed, each grisly encounter could go either way, so there is genuine suspense. Among the cast, the clear standout is Jane Adams as Pamela, whose sinister role would be spoilery to reveal.

is the most zeitgeisty horror film of the year and potentially the last cinematic word on the mask-up/shut-down era. There is a lot of rage expressed over Covid, but it really should have been directed at the most culpable party. That would be Xi Jinping, who censored early reports of the Covid breakout in Wuhan. Under his regime, critical samples were destroyed, setting back the international virology response to Covid months, costing lives in the process. If you want to assign blame, blame Xi and the CCP.

The perspective of
Sick is not that wide in scope, but its bloody satire of recent social attitudes is ruthlessly trenchant. Instead of the dozens of boring Zoom-based movies, this is how most future movie buffs will understand the Covid lockdown. Recommended for skeptical-minded slasher fans, Sick now streams on Peacock.