First Covid Slasher Movie Needs a Scare Booster – Rolling Stone

Give it to Kevin Williamson credit: The script writer behind Scream the series isn’t afraid to recycle its greatest hits. His new addition to the slasher film canon opens on a young man named Tyler (Joel Courtney) wandering the aisles of a sanitized supermarket. It is April 3, 2020. The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing exponentially. Most of the country is in full lockdown mode. Everyone is wearing a mask. Forget about finding toilet paper.

While scavenging for essentials in the shelter, Tyler receives a message: “Do you want to party?” He has no idea who is asking. Later, while checking out, the same person sends a text message again (“Nice ass”), along with a photo. The text comes from inside the building, but good luck trying to pick out a potential homicidal maniac behind a sea of ​​masked faces. When Tyler returns home, he receives even more creepy messages while going through his apartment… until he notices, reflected on his TV screen, a figure dressed in black holding a hunting knife. Tussle. Fishing. Escape. Instant sense of being out of danger. A surprise. Dead.

Yes, this does sound familiar, though keen, casual and/or incredibly stoned viewers will notice some major differences from the iconic prologue that opens Williamson’s 1996 meta-horror opus. First, the famous victim is a dude, though for fans The kissing booth movies, his early departure will be as painful as Drew Barrymore’s bloody send-off. Second, he is primarily receiving text messages instead of constant phone calls, because technology. And thirdly: There is a torn-from-yesterday-headlines case thrown in the mix. Sick has the distinction of being one of the first, if not the first the First, slasher flicks to take full advantage of our collective experience in 2020 of watching “normal” go out the window – to mix the vulnerability we all felt in those early days of the pandemic with the predatory fear of a killer on the loose. It may not be tres wink-nudge, yet the mood remains: What if Scream, but covid?

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That’s a big differentiator of this scary movie, which starts streaming on Peacock on January 13th – which is definitely Friday – and if you’re willing to sit through some old-school-teens-and-terror-at-a-lake-house fare Chestnut in the name of Covidsploitation curiosity, have at it. Our two heroes are Parker (Blockers‘ Gideon Adlon) and Mari (Bethlehem Million), both college students who are quarantined together in a remote, posh cabin owned by the former’s father. The unexpected arrival of Parker’s on-again/off-again boyfriend, DJ (Dylan Sprayberry), complicates things a bit, especially since he’s pissed off about an Instagram post of her hooking up at a recent party with another dude. Meanwhile, she is receiving mysterious, aggressive texts from an unknown person. And wait a minute, isn’t that the same black masked killer we saw earlier, only now he’s lurking around the lake….

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Until we get to the third act (more on that, spoiler-free, in a second), director John Hyams, Williamson, and co-writer Katelyn Crabb give us a perfectly functional, if predictable, catch-and-release horror scenario. A cat with a knife and other sharp implements goes after college mice, in other words; mice scurry away, but a cat still has tricks up its sleeve. Rinse, repeat. Adlon and Million have a solid girls final doubles match. Never doubt the effective power of a cut throat out of nowhere, or a creative spit, or how a quiet, rural setting can suddenly turn ominous and scary after the sun goes down. Seriously, who doesn’t like a good table-turning fake out or three?


You could almost forget it Sick takes place at the beginning of the pandemic, until the film reveals its endgame – at which point you’ll either make an emergency appointment with your eye doctor for excessive eye-rolling or slow-clap. Williamson & Co. remember the fear most people felt when the virus seemed to move through the population at breakneck speed and how every outing made you wonder if you were taking your life into your hands. They also remember the anger that infected those who believed that our fellow citizens showed a rather laissez-faire attitude to public health guidelines. Whether the ideas they’re playing with here offer any motivational shots relevant to a modern slasher story is frankly debatable. All we can say is: congratulations on being both first out of the gate and instant subsection footnote.

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