When dealing with the fascinating world of zombie genre horror flicks, they run the gambit of their feeding frenzy to the audiences from exiting to over-the-top and then absurd to dread; however always in common the desperation to survive the undead apocalypse for another day. Director Ryan M. Andrews takes the hold of the independent film Sick (from Hellfire Pictures their first film) and the audience with pessimistic film, that shows the plight of the human race and the grit of hopelessness against not the zombie horde but rather other humans sometimes called in the film as vultures.
The basis of the storyline enters into the infection running rampant after two years since the sick devoured and destroyed the world governments, ruining society, and facing a new global extinction, a group of scientists and few soldiers hold up in secret lab working with others to conquer the plague. Enter Dr. Leigh Rozetta (Christina Aceto) a young scientist, quite crafty in her field, scoop up before the outbreak leaving behind her parents, escorted to the lab resulting in failed attempts of finding a cure but all is not what it seems, and there lies the mystery in Ryan’s film. Christina does a wonderful performance with her character especially hiding secrets and yet has true heartfelt concern over her parents’ lives. Soon she leaves the base without any military support to return home for unknown reasons, none that express in the film clearly, therein she meets with rouge survivors Seph (Richard Roy Sutton) and McKay (Robert Nolan) and all three find themselves in her old home, and in the darkness the secrets come out in force. Richard and Robert supply a battle of wills, in an attempt to control the situation, and weighing options for survival versus for themselves, their other groups they represent. Leigh’s fellow scientist Dr. Joselda Fehmi remains at the lab, to continue the work, and does an equally fine performance, after all the actress is none-other-than the incredible Debbie Rochon, the scream and horror queen, who first started in 1988 in Negatives and now with over 165 horror films, making her starring role in Canada, where this production filmed. One the aspects of Leigh returning home shows the deeper character involvement, who discovers the fate of her parents and allows her to experience the safety of her home, the normalcy of the surroundings, a brief escapism to simpler times without zombies and extinction. Yet from her actions, the doctor hold secrets, personal and societal cures, nevertheless she plays the bluff extremely well, hiding the truths closely.
At first this film abandons finding the cure premise but when it did focus on it, the setup for the discussion resides on horrendous territory with poor execution, loose consideration and concentration, white boards that have sloppy writings, and feels if completely able. In other zombie films this aspect of set in a government base has a bit of factorial qualities such in the case of Day of the Dead (1985) from zombie grand-designer George A. Romero, with their Dr. Logan but in Sick that sadly never excels. Another aspect that gives the audience a sour taste and the lack of hope, which all horror films crave in some way to produce the glimmer of hope, especially in zombie films, but Ryan abandons that element, turning to only depression leaving one to puzzle over that option. If one refers back to films such as Danny Boyle’s film 28 Days Later (2002) the survivors battle to get to a chopper to fly off, a scene repeated from Dawn of the Dead (1978), Day of the Dead (1985) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and likely more films. Then Return of the Living Dead (1985) and even I am Legend (2007) the hope drives the film, and brings the audience along, however Sick never holds any hope, until a brief glimpse slips out as a trickle for the masses.
Ryan definitely designs a vehicle of fear, though with the depression factor vastly dominating the screen, the moments of reflection into the love and life flash extremely well, providing an insight more into the characters and their motives than that of the zombie action, which overshadows the genre thoroughly well. If one seeks a new variation in the zombie genre and opts for focus on characters, than the quick elimination of humans, then Midnight Releasing’s Sick is your cure.