DVD REVIEW: SICK: SURVIVE THE NIGHT / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: RYAN M. ANDREWS / SCREENPLAY: RYAN M. ANDREWS, CHRIS CULL / STARRING: DEBBIE ROCHON, CHRISTINA ACETO, RICHARD ROY SUTTON, ROBERT NOLAN / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Having done the rounds on the festival circuit in 2012, writer and director Ryan M. Andrews’ Sick: Survive the Night is being released on DVD and VOD early next year, but you’ll be better off spending your Christmas money elsewhere.
Given its low budget, Andrews taps into the indie spirit with gusto, putting drama over horror, and while the blood doesn’t splatter every which way, the performances fail to ignite. It’s difficult to sympathise with any of the cast, whose motivations, histories and relationships are unclear. Like the script, the acting could have done with more nuance. Seph (Sutton) is an especially unlikable character, and given he’s one of the last left standing, you end up rooting for the zombies instead.
The way the story unfolds is one of the film’s few strengths, kicking off with a flashback before returning to the present, spliced up with Dr. Joselda Fehmi’s (Rochon) video diary. There isn’t much in the way of explanation where the outbreak’s concerned, but then there isn’t a discernible plot. Instead it’s a series of events and, like its namesake, is just about surviving the night. While the point may be to showcase the breakdown of narrative in a devastating, world-changing epidemic, it doesn’t make for the most compelling watch.
As the majority of the film is set outside, it does suffer from being over-exposed, while adding an eerie apocalyptic quality to some scenes, it’s often only jarring. During one of the few action sequences, there’s an irritating use of freeze frames, which puts a halt on the adrenaline. The sound effects, though, are the films major stylistic shortcoming, as if Andrews found a free sound pack on a shoddy corner of the web.
The zombies themselves are more in a traditional vein, which is a refreshing return to Night of the Living Dead territory. Given the low budget, it’s good to see a lot done with a little in terms of gore and makeup, though it’s not enough to forgive the other inadequacies.
The world Andrews has crafted is an ambiguous one, which scrimps on details and leaves questions you don’t care enough to want answered. If it’s an understated indie leaning zombie film you want, stick with The Battery.
Special Features: TBC
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