The Sick House DVD review

More horrific happenings in an orphanage, but Del Toro is nowhere in sight and Matt Haigh has seen it all before...

The Sick House

The Sick House is the sort of film that thinks constant fast-cuts of half-glimpsed images are a good substitute for actual scares. Not beating about the bush, it is the sort of horror film I fucking hate.

Some archaeologist (played by the only recognizable actor, Gina Philips of Jeepers Creepers fame) thinks she’s found a secret chamber in an old orphanage, which has been closed down on the suspicion that it contains the plague. She doesn’t seem phased by the possibility of contracting the black death, though, and breaks into the orphanage against instructions to stay out, slashes her way through some biohazard signs, and proceeds to search for clues. Idiot.

Then a bunch of pill-popping losers with terribly fake London accents – including an all-smoking, all-drugging pregnant woman – crash their car thanks to some reckless driving and, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, go into the orphanage and not, instead, to a hospital, despite one of their number being seriously injured. These are the sort of people the world could probably do without, so it’s not really of any consequence when weird masked men turn up and start killing off everybody.

There’s no real logic or sense to anything that happens. One of the teenagers seems to have something against leaving the orphanage and getting aid for their injured friend, although his reasons are never made clear. Maybe he just likes dingy orphanages. He says they can’t go to the police or tell the security guard because they’ll all go to prison – but why, exactly? They had a car accident and went into the orphanage, which wasn’t even locked up very well anyway, supposedly in search of aid. Is that an offence? Another one says, “There must be a way out of here,” while climbing up onto a chair and feeling along the walls – er, for some sort of secret hatch, maybe? It seems nobody thought of simply going back the way they came and walking out of the front door.

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The camera-work in this film is absolutely awful. For no apparent reason, things flicker and blur, which is supposed to be a sort of quirk, I think, but comes off annoying as hell. The camera swings all over the place, constantly, and on top of that, the picture is just too dark. So, not only is it difficult to make out anything that’s going on, but also, it actually hurts your head to watch it. People complained about the fast-moving camera in Cloverfield, but The Sick House makes that look tame by comparison.

One of the characters even takes the piss out of The Blair Witch Project – which the film actually tries to rip off by having one of the characters pick up a hand-held camera and show us things from its point of view, for absolutely no reason. Oddly, electricity is still being supplied to the closed down orphanage, so the character can see where he’s going, which means he’s not using the camera as a source of light. But nevertheless, he seems to find it necessary to have the camera jammed to his eye in order to walk.

The characters probably had names, but it’s hard to tell or care. There is simply nothing to recommend this film; it’s not fun, it’s not scary, it’s not gripping, it’s just one big dark mess that should be burned and never thought of again. For that reason, I’m giving this zero stars.

The Sick House is released on July 14th