Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Out today - The Sickhouse. (*1/10)

The Sickhouse is a horror movie that comes out today courtesy of Alliance Films. It’s a total mess of a movie, and will waste your time immensely. Even if you are a rabid horror buff, you can skip this one. There is absolutely nothing in this film that has not been seen before, and even by the already-low standards of horror flicks, this one fails. I don’t understand these direct to DVD horror films. Why are they made? Is there really a profit? This is yet another in an interminable list of my-first-movie horror hatchet jobs. For every Blair Witch or Cloverdale or Evil Dead, there are fifty thousand terrible movies out there, and The Sickhouse is one of them.

The basic premise is that a woman (played by Gina Phillips, who gets top billing even though I have no idea who she is) gets trapped inside a building. That building (of course) used to be a hospital for (of course) sick children. But it was also, many years earlier, the site of (of course) child murders, the black plague, and horrible acts of violence and evil and sadism perpetrated by doctors who were members of some kind of evil cult. Phillips is an archaeologist (of course) who is excavating the basement of this abandoned hospital. The building is scheduled for demolition early the next morning, so she has very little time to complete her dig. There are (of course) bad-ass kids who show up at the hospital to do bad-ass punk type things, like auto theft and graffitti and drugs. The four kids and the archaeologist are thrown into the hell together when a doll is found and a head is placed on it and a floor gives way and a head injury occurs and evil spirits are unleashed. Or something.

There is not one real scare in the entire movie. The end makes absolutely no sense, as though it was cooked up by a bunch of stoners who really wanted to "mess with their miiinnnds, maaan!" It is ludicrous, and the film makers definitely thought it was deeper and far more clever than it was. Here are a few tips for people who want to make my-first-film horror flicks. Weird camera angles are not scary. Blair Witch photography has not been scary since Blair Witch. A twist at the end is scary only when it doesn’t piss you off. Also, that twist has to make sense, and the rest of the movie has to be good enough to hold someone’s interest until you can unleash that twist. The Sickhouse misses the mark on every score.

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