Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sick Girl (2009)

Sick Girl is an independent production that I eagerly looked forward to seeing. I mean, how can you go wrong with a twisted and disturbing story who’s synopsis describes the crazy lead character as someone who “wants to f**k her older brother, protect her younger brother and torture everyone else out in her barn”?!

I was looking forward to a brutal characterization of a take-no-prisoners female character, but when I finally got around to seeing this flick I was pretty let down. It features plenty of disturbing and shocking imagery, but that’s pretty much all the film offered and therefore was devoid of any depth or real reason for even being made.

In Sick Girl, Izzy (Leslie Andrews) is left to care for her little brother Kevin (Charlie Trepany) after her older brother leaves to fight in the war overseas. Their parents passed away many years prior and the only adult in Izzy and Kevin’s life is big biker Barney (John McGarr), who looks after Kevin while Izzy is off terrorizing people. And terrorize she does – she blows away a random bunch of Catholic schoolgirls on a bus, teaches her brother’s bullies a lesson and even castrates a random dude. She’s got her own little torture barn out behind her house, where she brings victims she wants to get a little more intimate with. Yup, Izzy is a sadistic killer, but neither Kevin nor Barney has any idea about her crazy, murderous streak.

The film felt like it was made solely for shock’s worth, but hardcore horror fans won’t really be fazed by most of the violence in Sick Girl and more mainstream audiences won’t pick it up in the first place. It just feels like an unbalanced, pointless exercise in “shock cinema” that ultimately fails in the end.

The acting ranged from mediocre to pretty competent. I thought Charlie Trepany (as little brother Kevin) and John McGarr (as gentle giant Barney) did a consistently good job with their characters, but I can’t decide if I liked or loathed Leslie Andrews’ acting as Izzy. At times it felt like she was more wooden than an actor in a school play, but other times her far-away stare and sudden violence felt very real. Or was it the character that was really that disjointed? Either way, I am torn on Andrews’ performance.

I will say that I enjoyed the gritty, natural look of the film. The rural atmosphere, with its rolling fields and red barns, was a nice break from the urban atmosphere of most “disturbed killer” movies. The stark, empty setting complemented the emptiness and loneliness of Izzy’s character. Director Eben McGarr (who also wrote the film) perfectly captured the washed-out, naturally lit look of ‘70s exploitation flicks.

So, the film looks pretty, but what is it trying to say? That life’s not fair? That some of us just can’t handle the stresses of life and snap? The message definitely isn’t clear, and in fact the lead character of Izzy isn’t even sympathetic. Izzy is so f’ed up that you don’t feel sorry for her, and in fact, begin feeling sorry for her intended victims, even though they themselves are far from innocent. In fact, in her barn Izzy has tied up a horny teen, a bitchy schoolgirl and a sadistic bully. Her punishments for these predators turned prey include castration, rape with a handmade strap-on and allowing a starved rat to eat someone’s face off (while they are still alive). You end up feeling sorrier for these victims than for Izzy. And is she just trying to protect her family or does her violence extend to anyone and everyone? These guidelines are never really set up, so by the time the disturbing conclusion rolls around, you really don’t feel anything at all. There is no emotional impact, and I for one was glad the movie was finally over and that I never had to watch it again.

I love a good, shocking movie, especially when so many play it safe. What makes shocking cinema so good, though, are the underlying themes and ideas that really make you think long after you’ve seen the films and been bombarded with their disturbing imagery. Unfortunately, Sick Girl fails to accomplish this and just shows disturbing imagery for the shock value and nothing more. Which, to me, made it a displeasure to watch and very forgettable upon its conclusion. Sorry, Sick Girl, but I just wish someone had put you out of your misery before I watched you.

Order it on Amazon!

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