Sick Girl (2007)
By: Sam Bowron on September 14, 2011  | 
Monster Pictures | All Regions, NTSC | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 78 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Eben McGarr
Starring: Leslie Andrews, John McGarr, Charlie Trepany, Ian Villalobos, Stephen Geoffreys
Screenplay: Eben McGarr
Country: USA
External Links
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There exists a certain subgenre in exploitation that centers upon presenting an audience with an anti-hero (or 'vigilante', if you prefer), a figure that is designed to be a representation of personal integrity and justice, albeit demonstrated through questionable morals and extreme violence. Films such as The Exterminator, Savage Streets, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except (aka Stryker's War) and countless others all feature prominent characters hell-bent on unleashing an innate fury brought on by either severe circumstance or a specific event of aggression directed toward them or somebody they care for. A predictable story arc, yes, but they're a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Riffing on this formula in a similar vein is the independent grass-roots flick Sick Girl, the directorial debut from first timer Eben McGarr. While it may like to think of itself as a deeply motivated and character-driven drama (like many an anti-hero films often are) it instead winds up resembling something far more akin to shocksploitation; films that rarely concern themselves with anything but gratuitous violence and pervasive sexual content in order to sell their sensationalistic scenarios. A shame really as this nasty little number could have been something very special indeed.

Izzy (Leslie Andrews) is left to care for her little brother Kevin (Charlie Trepany) after her older brother Rusty (Chris W. King) leaves to join the marines overseas. Apart from biker friend Barney (John McGarr), Izzy is the only dependable adult in Kevin's life since the death of their parents some years prior, thus her outlook and protection of him is strong. Moreover, when Kevin is spending time with Barney eating pizza and learning skills in self-defense, Izzy is out kidnapping undesirables around town and bringing them back to the family barn where she treats them to various methods of torture, humiliation and yes, murder. What's worse is neither Barney nor Kevin have any idea of Izzy's depraved activities or her increasing insanity…

Sick Girl starts off rather promising, opening with a flashback sequence depicting Izzy unzipping her shorts and peeing on a nun's face in the middle of a school bus as a bunch of horrified elementary girls look on in disgust before blowing a handful of them away with a 44 magnum. From a screenwriting standpoint, here's is the section of the film in which McGarr begins establishing his protagonists' circumstance by introducing the contributing factors that have caused her to commit such crimes in the hope of validating her as a mentally unstable human being, at least in the cinematic sense.

However, for all the bad luck befallen upon poor Izzy, are we really expected to believe that a few family issues and a death have lead her to become a psychopathic serial killer? Really? I don't know about you but for all the sadistic mayhem and torture that occurs throughout the movie, I couldn't for the life of me connect any of it to a single incident within Izzy's upbringing that may have acted as a legitimate trigger point to her eventual outbreak of aggression. If a movie is to build itself entirely upon the stance of its title character and their psychological state of mind, the history and complexity of that character's disposition should be well illustrated through detailed exposition and back story in order to be effective. Instead, McGarr features two or three flashbacks and a handful of dialogue mused over by secondary characters in an attempt to validate the bloodshed. A tad lazy, you might say.

Furthermore, there is an off chance that any dramatic integrity that existed within Sick Girl's inception could have been saved through solid performances, or at the very least a believable portrayal of madness by the ailing gal in question. Sadly, relative newcomer Leslie Andrews seems to be incapable of emoting anything beyond a monotone expression, resulting in one of the most stilted and dreary performances in recent memory, made even worse by the fact that her character is made to carry the entire movie. Micro budget films such as these rarely showcase stellar talent, however it's as if each member of the Sick Girl cast had a copy of the script propped up in front of them in case they forgot they were being paid to perform for the purposes of someone else's entertainment.

There are a couple of positive aspects about Sick Girl (eg, the gritty rural atmosphere, the stark visual aesthetic, etc) but none of them are dramatically significant enough to save the film from its otherwise dire circumstances. If the screenplay had developed a genuinely compelling central figure motivated by an external tragedy that in turn resulted in an internal rage powerful enough for an audience to comprehend - or at the very least reluctantly accept for ninety minutes – then maybe the ensuing film would have been more than simply an aimless excuse for some male castration and anal rape. Perhaps it's just me but I couldn't help but think Izzy was simply faking her 'sickness' all along.
Presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, it almost looks as though the film was shot on 16mm and blown up in post. Either way, the film looks as good as you'd expect a low budget indie flick to look. Skin tones are all natural and the image gets a surprising amount of color contrast out of it. Not too shabby.
A solid 2.0 Dolby stereo track is supplied on the disc. Dialogue is crystal clear and nicely balanced between the two speakers, as is the minimal music score.
Extra Features
Often times the task of exploring supplemental material for a film I didn't exactly care for a whole lot can be quite arduous. Thankfully, Monster Pictures (and Synapse in the States) have provided some interesting little tidbits for the Sick Girl release, if not exactly elemental to the films' production. As it stands, we get a brisk featurette on Andrews (one that also delves into her obsession with crime scene photography), a mock PSA teaser with Andrews in character urging a cinema audience to shut the hell up while watching the film, a collection of mildly humorous outtakes, an interview with co-star Stephen Geoffreys (of Fright Night and 976-EVIL fame) and a full-length trailer to round it out.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Granted, Sick Girl is a down and dirty exploitation movie at heart. However, building a film on the predication that an audience will practically take for granted said lead character's psychosis with no questions asked leads to perhaps the biggest failure of the screenplay, thus the ultimate failure of the movie overall. Approach with caution.

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