Director – Adam Wingard
Cast – Forrest Pitts, Lindley Praytor, Tiffany Shepis, Will Akers, Matt Lero, Brandon Carroll, Tom Towles, Jeff Dylan Graham, Bill Mosely
Release Year – 2007
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that I came across randomly one day, and after digging its plot I figured I’d give this low-budget DTV effort a watch. I admit that I went into this flick with moderate expectations given it “starred” Bill Mosely(The Devil’s Rejects, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Repo! The Genetic Opera, House of 1000 Corpses), but in the end I was left with a very unsatisfying watch despite some truly awesome Hatchet-esque gore and kills.
A group of young adults partying in a small Alabama town are greeted by a mysterious uninvited guest carrying a suitcase full of razorblades. He asks each person to name someone they hate and would like to see dead, and upon doing so unleashes a powerful supernatural being to kill each of the participants in his sick game. As the friends are brutally killed off they shack up with a heavily armed outdoorsy chili enthusiast to fight off the demon.
Home Sick not only looks like a low-budget film, it looks like a low-budget film from the 70s/80s. By low-budget I don’t mean Evil Dead low budget, I am talking a very amateurish Killing Spree low-budget. Some of you may not see this is as a fault, I am just dishing the facts and letting you decide on that.
The story was an interesting one to me mainly because of Bill Mosely’s character, the mysterious man carrying the suitcase full of razorblades. I enjoyed the idea of such a person crashing a party and giving our drunk and not-critically thinking protagonists the opportunity to set themselves up with untimely death, and it worked good with setting up the events that would ensue. The rest of the storyline follows the usual standard where each of the characters goes their own way, realizes that others involved with what happened are being killed off, then band together at the end to finish what they started. I never mind this slasher-esque template because it provides me with the conflict and tension that I enjoy seeing, however things must be properly executed for this to work well…and they weren’t.
For one, the screenplay is horrendous, with pathetic dialogue and horrible character play. I never once felt engaged in what was going on between our characters, and it came as a result of a lazily written script. As you may have guessed. Bill Mosely’s character’s screen time is limited to the first sequence only(yet he received top billing), so the only worthwhile character for us to marvel at comes and goes in a matter of minutes. Thankfully, writer E. L. Katz at least took the time to write in some good gore.
While the story is in the negatives, so is the film’s direction. The young Adam Wingard failed to capture my interest in the vast majority of his film, leaving me to only marvel at the film’s awesome gore. Mr. Wingard completed this film back in 2003 at the age of 19, shooting the film in 16mm, which should be taken into consideration. For such a low-budget watch I was very impressed with the gore scenes we were given, and it seems either Wingard got very creative, or all of his money went towards the film’s special effects. Either way, the gore is up there with the gore we see in Adam Green’s Hatchet and Hatchet II, which I hope says something about the future of horror filmmaking, that young and upcoming directors are relying on live action effects and not CGI usage. His demon was also pretty sweet to watch as well, although we did not see much of him until the film’s final act. I will not knock Adam Wingard for that though, because this film plays off like a slasher, with us not seeing the killer’s identity until the final act of the film. I really wish that the rest of Wingard’s direction was this good, and it may be due to the low-budget that he had to work with, but it is what it is. We get terrible performances from nearly everyone involved, with only Bill Mosely and Tom Towles(Uncle Johnny) delivering performances worth my time. The film tends to drag at multiple times due to the uninteresting scenes going on, and while that falls on the film’s story and writing, good direction can improve that and possibly even turn it into a positive for the viewer…but that was not the case.
Overall, Home Sick is a very low-budget film that despite some fantastically awesome gore fails to capture the positives its overall plot has to offer. A poor script left the film doomed after the opening sequence, and from then on out less-than-favorable execution of everything but the gore left me sad that this film was not the hidden gem that I thought it could be. Not recommended.