Sick – 2022

Director John Hyams
Screenplay Kevin Williamson, Katelynn Crab
Starring Gideon Adlon, Bethlehem Million, Dylan Sprayberry, Joel Courtney, Marc Menchaca, Jane Adams

Since his heyday decades ago writing Dawson’s Creek, Scream and its first few sequels, Kevin Williamson’s stock has receded. In what should not really be considered a comeback, Williamson has worked beyond executive producer role in a film that might be the level of one of his protoges. That it’s Williamson’s name on the script this time out is as disappointing in result as it is exciting in prospect.

The story starts with the presumed random killing of a guy who’s being stalked in a grocery store. This is not random, of course. We see the use of texting from anonymous sources. It’s not that this is impossible in the day of cell phones weeding out unsolicited messages, or at least give a phone number. I can’t tell you the last time I responded to a random text in any way. Still, they need a new MacGuffin. Texting is the “Hello Sydney” telephone calls of Williamson’s earlier Scream work, so we have to assume it would be a thing. Given this stretch into movie cheats, it’s not as interesting this time around.

The hook this time around is the pandemic. The first time we see Parler (Adlon), she is leaving school since it’s been closed down and prepping to self-isolate with a friend at a deluxe remote family cabin. I am not sure about the number of states that closed colleges down completely for covid, but assuming it’s true, I would guess the story starting date of April 2020 would be in the timeline.

Miri is heading out to quarantine with her friend Miri (Million). As they arrive, Parker gets some anonymous cryptic messages, apparently from the same stalker who killed the guy in the initial scene. We know more than Parker and Miri at this point. She messaged Instagram on her plans, so anyone with access to that info would have an idea where she’s going.

What follows is standard fare for this type of film, done less artfully than Craven showed in his efforts. It’s even less interesting than Williamson’s I Know What You Did Last Summer series. There are relatively few moments of chilling events that make the viewer thrill with anticipation. It could be the fact that they are isolated to one location, but really even with the concentration of place and character. We’re not learning enough about the characters to make them interesting, until they’re thrown into action. Even then, it’s only the bare minimum.

As for said action, the film does pick up a bit when heads start to roll. There are one or two moves that are not completely telegraphed. One line we see in the trailer about putting the mask on before getting into the car while being chased by the killer is subverted by the very next event. One wonders what might have been if they’d picked a better option.

There are too many more moments that we’ve seen too often before in movies like Sick. There is not one piece of information brought up in one scene that we will be surprised about in a later scene. The logic is sound for motive. I am not sure it’s worth more than a chuckle when it is revealed. Some people just need a reason, no matter how slight.

Sick is decent if one hasn’t been exposed to anything Williamson has been involved with earlier. The difference here is the characters are not nearly as engaging as Dewey, Gale and Sydney and their coterie of friends and associates. Characters in this story feel more like NPC’s than someone we might actually know. That we never learn to associate them with anything other than potential victims hurts the bottom line.

(** out of *****)

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