Review: Sick Boy / Cert: 18 / Director: Tim T. Cunningham / Screenplay: Tim T. Cunningham / Starring: Skye McCole Bartusiak, Mark Donato, Debbie Rochon / Release Date: Out Now
When you watch a lot of low budget horror films, one thing sadly becomes clear: more often than not, people don’t realise their limitations and their reach exceeds their grasp. So it’s incredibly refreshing to finally watch something that not only takes advantage of its limits but downright celebrates them, resulting in perhaps the best direct-to-DVD horror film for ages.
Sick Boy is, at its core, a unique take on the zombie myth, one done so well and with such love that it never feels like you are watching another film in the endless cycle of cheapo undead clag. We start with a frustrated girl named Lucy (Bartusiak) who quits her dental assistant job, much to the frustration of her fiancé Chris (Donato). From here she ends up taking a babysitting job from her actress friend who has just booked an acting gig. Lucy goes to the home of Dr Helen Gordan (Rochon) and is informed that her well-paid job is just to stay at the house whilst Jeremy stays in his room and to call the doctor if anything happens. Jeremy apparently has some kind of immune deficiency illness and his father is ‘out of town’. As the nights wear on it becomes clear that something more is going on with young Jeremy.
We're talking a super low-budget movie with the only real locations being the insides of houses. As a result it has this earthy, Grindhouse feel. The aesthetic is raw and grungy and it helps the sense of dread that builds as the film goes on. The characters and dialogue all feel very real and authentic. The arguments that Lucy and Chris have around money and life are very real arguments that seem to occur every day and their characters feel like living, breathing people.
The film feels a lot like House of the Devil in that it builds and builds a sense of dread and unease throughout its first hour. When the reveal comes and the carnage starts, it’s anything but predictable in the way it plays out and for such a low-budget film, they don’t scrimp on the gore either.
Sadly in the times we find ourselves in, Sick Boy is likely to go unnoticed, but back 30 years ago this would have been a film to be celebrated alongside The Evil Dead, Phantasm and Near Dark. It’s a very strong film from director Tim T.Cunningham, who hopefully we will see a lot more from in the future.