Sick Boy (2012)
Sick Boy (2012) is only the second feature film to be both written and directed by Tim T Cunningham and comes almost a decade after his debut, Xtracurricular (2003). Whilst his may not yet be a household name, most audiences will be familiar with his work as a visual effects producer. His credits include some of the biggest block busters of recent years including X-Men: First Class (2011) and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), which was Oscar nominated for its VFX.
Sick Boy centres around Lucy (Skye McCole Bartusiak), who has taken a babysitting job to help out her friend. She suspects that Jeremy, the child she is caring for, may need her help, but whilst she has been warned not to get involved by both her boyfriend Chris (Marc Donato) and Jeremy’s mother (Debbie Rochon), her curiosity gets the better of her.
The story follows Lucy over three days/nights and, on the surface, this structure feels similar to the recent Paranormal Activity franchise. There are, however, brief sequences which focus on the relationship between Lucy and Chris, and whilst they serve to add back story and develop these characters, they are very important in holding the audience’s attention to what could be very repetitive. It is similar to a technique used by Tykwer in Run Lola Run (1998). These segments function to end each night almost as if it were a level in a video game which has been successfully completed and prepare the audience for the next day, which will undoubtedly be more challenging.
In addition, there is a distinct Hitchcockian element to the narrative, depicted mainly from Lucy’s point of view, and the very clever use of a staircase to add suspense, much like in Psycho and Vertigo to name just a couple of examples. The story also brings to mind Pearl Jam’s 1992 single ‘Jeremy’. The original soundtrack by Matt Linder and its resonance of the Carpenter soundtracks of the 1980s is also worthy of note. Cunningham adeptly pulls all of this together and the overall atmosphere is more akin with that of Japanese horror.
There are brief moments when Bartusiak doesn’t look comfortable in the lead and tends to over-act which creates an almost parody effect and Officer Pohlman (Pierre Kennel) seems to have wandered onto the shoot directly from a 1970s porno. The supporting cast though is very strong throughout, particularly Donato, and for most fans of the horror genre such comedic tropes are generally expected and often add to the overall entertainment factor.
On the whole Sick Boy is a very original take on some of horror’s well used conventions, and should definitely not be dismissed. Visually the film cannot be faulted and Cunningham skilfully creates tension, intrigue and suspense.
A demonic infant feature which stems from the same nightmarish world of The Omen and The Orphanage.
Sick Boy will be released in the UK through 101 Films very soon. Many thanks are also due to our friends at Raven Banner.
Rachel Maughan is a former court usher/barmaid/brush bristle seller, from Bishop Auckland. Currently a film and media student at Sunderland University, she is an ardent Tarantino fan, as well as a lover of all things horror and sci-fi. Has a Tardis in her back garden. Spends most nights in her cow print onesie eating chocolate, watching films and drinking Tia Maria.