The “Masters of Horror” anthology series — premiering on
Showtime in the fall of 2005, and
subsequently released on DVD by Anchor Bay, who’s done well in large
part by carving
out a lucrative niche with said genre — has given old maestros and new
hired hands alike the chance to flex their muscles in short-form
Director Lucky McKee is of the latter category. He burst onto the mainstream scene, such as it was, with 2002’s May, a sincerely creepy psychological horror flick about a disturbed young woman (Angela Bettis)
who harbors a crush on a nearby guy (Jeremy Sisto), and takes out her
obsession on dolls, and then people. Studded with unnerving detail, it
was a legitimately impressive and audacious indie-minded flick. “Masters of Horror” entry Sick Girl reteams McKee and his May star, then, but unfortunately to lesser mesmerizing effect.
Misty Mundae, credited here by her given name, Erin Brown), though, she feels the endorphins of love surging through her body for the first time. Unfortunately, there’s still the matter of bugs in their relationship, and when some very important ones get loose in Ida’s apartment, it has some deadly consequences.
Bettis is a perfect match for wounded and/or constipated characters of this nature; she conveys their wound-up awkwardness and isolation (maybe she watched Carrie
every day growing up) without ever dipping into clichés of loserdom. So as a character piece, Sick Girl has a few things going for it. Unfortunately, Misty is a cipher, and while McKee concocts a few nice ewww moments (Chinese food with cockroaches would qualify), latter-act bug point-of-view shots come off as eye-rollingly cheesy and nonsensical inclusions. Jesse Hlubik, meanwhile, costars as Max Grubb, the third side of Sick Girl‘s triangle.
Presented in 1.77:1 widescreen, enhanced for 16×9 televisions, Sick Girl comes with the usual complement of solid bonus features that dot Anchor Bay’s “Masters of Horror” releases. In addition to a still photo gallery, a DVD-ROM
screensaver and copy of the screenplay, a McKee text biography and trailers for other releases, there’s a warm, friendly audio commentary
track with McKee, composer Jaye Barnes Luckett and actors Bettis and Hlubik, full of anecdotal riffs. There’s also a behind-the-scenes making-of featurette, a more specific look at the movie’s creepy-crawly effects work and on-set interviews with
Bettis, Brad McDonald and Mundae/Brown. C+ (Movie) B+ (Disc)