Director – Lucky McKee
Cast – Angela Bettis, Misty Mundae, Jesse Hlubik, Marcia Bennett, Mike McKee, Chandra Berg
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Lucky Mckee first impacted the genre with his great 2002 feature debut May, and that was enough to grant him inclusion not only in this “Masters of Horror” series, but in conversations around the horror realm regarding who our next great directors will be. This entry, titled Sick Girl, once again shows Lucky can positively produce a creepy performance-based horror flick with plenty of quirky yet non-silly elements. Much like May, he succeeds again.
Sick Girl stars Lucky McKee favorite Angela Bettis as Ida Teetter, a quirky entomologist obsessed with her work yet unsatisfied with her love life. Because it is hard to keep girlfriends(yes, she is a lesbian) when you work with bugs all day and keep most of them as pets in your home, Ida’s love life sucks. Her luck changes one day when she finally gets the guts to ask a shy yet pretty girl out for a date, and the girl says “yes”. When Ida receives a unique specimen in the mail she gives it a home in her apartment, and with disastrous results. The unknown species escapes, and bites her new girlfriend in her sleep. As the bug’s venom takes effect into the poor girl, it turns her from the nice sweetheart she is into a completely different person. As her condition worsens, Ida must deal with her girlfriend’s ever-changing personality, a condition that seems to happen when relationships move too quickly.
It was nice to see the Lucky McKee/Angela Bettis duo back in action in the horror realm. Not since May had we been given this director/actor combo and after two positive efforts it seems they have a good thing going. Angela Bettis does a great job personifying her quirky and naïve character, a far cry from the creepy character she portrayed in May. For once, she isn’t the bad girl, something fans of her would enjoy seeing. Because of my biological background and my fascination with bugs, I found that element to be highly enjoyable. It does not focus too much on bugs, not like the awesome Del Toro flick Mimic, but we get a decent amount of bug work.
The storyline was an interesting one because although it did deal with a type of infection(the bug bite), ti did not turn the victim into a bloodthirsty savage, but instead aimed more for psychological horror. Some may like that, others may not, nonetheless it is something different and I admire that. I also really enjoyed that this flick focused on two lesbians instead of the normal(yes, I said “normal”) couple conflict. Not only must the work through each other’s quirky and shy tidbits, but they must keep it from Ida’s traditional landlord as well. It also could be my slight fascination with Angela Bettis, and the resulting effects of being a lesbian. Heh. The descent into madness Ida’s girlfriend went through was nice to watch and it did come off as a type of commentary about the horrors of moving into a relationship too quickly. It wasn’t the usual mentally unstable person going apesh*t, but a shy girl suffering at the hands of a deadly virus. Personally, I dug it.
Lucky McKee’s direction is positive and I would assume he had to focus more on getting the required performances from his actresses over setting up any great horror scenes. We do get some nice elements of horror, but aside from the end scene where we get a great look at the bug(my favorite scene of the film), the non-character horror was low.
Overall, this is a positive watch that blends creature horror with psychological horror in a way not really done too often, with a lesbian relationship. Fans of Lucky’s work and Angela Bettis should give this one a watch.
– I ranked this film #17 out of the 26 entries in my Ranking the “Masters of Horror” Entries post.