The Showtime MASTERS OF HORROR series rolls on with its latest episode, SICK GIRL – an episode directed by young director Lucky McKee. Now, McKee has directed two movies in total before he was given the helm of this episode, which hardly qualifies him as a master of horror in the strictest sense of the word. But I suppose the producers felt he had the talent to become a master of horror. Judging from the results, the potential is there, but he could use some slightly more horrific plot concepts to take him to the next level.
SICK GIRL revolves around Ida Teeter, played by Angela Bettis (best known as Carrie in the TV version of the Stephen King book). Ida is a lesbian who has a tough time holding down a relationship because of her fanatical love of bugs – a love which encompasses not only her job but also her hobbies, as her apartment full of her unique pets. She gets continual advice from her male co-worker about not revealing her love of bugs to women so as not to scare them away. Ida clearly worries about hiding such an integral part of her life, but she also yearns for a good relationship so she is conflicted.
Let me say at an early point in the film that how much you enjoy SICK GIRL will depend on how you feel about Bettis’ extremely mannered, over-the-top nerd performance as Ida. I actually kind of liked it, I thought it brought a unique and corky aspect to the show, but if it annoys you after five minutes, I’d switch this off since you won’t enjoy the rest. Anyhow, Ida soon meets an equally odd sketch artist in the lobby of her work, and the two soon embark on their first date.
It’s clear at an early stage that this pair is clicking and love is in the offing, but once again Ida is conflicted about how much to reveal of her love for bugs. Around the same time this relationship is developing, Ida receives a package in the mail of an extremely unusual bug – one she’s never quite seen before. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this bug is going to factor into the plot somehow (especially since we keep seeing from the P.O.V. of the bug itself). Soon enough, Ida’s new girlfriend discovers her bugs and accepts them and the two begin a very domesticated relationship.
The relationship starts to take some odd twists, as the new girlfriend starts sketching her dreams of having intercourse with a very large bug. We start to suspect this is more than a dream when she starts secreting odd juices out of her ear and acting extremely erratically. And when the bug-hating land-lady takes a fatal spill down the stairs, it’s clear something strange is afoot.
There are some interesting twists and the last five minutes gets a little crazy, although not very gruesome. The last scene in the show is a cute twist as well, and everything ends on a “winking” happy note. And that’s sort of the problem. I wanted it to get darker and bloodier. Lucky McKee does a great job of directing the early scenes and really creating fleshed-out characters in such a short time-span. I liked Bettis’ unusual performance and the whole thing had an original feel to it. And because I felt connected to her character, I wanted to have some horrible horrible things happen to really knock me out. But the end was just a little silly and not particularly disturbing.
All in all, SICK GIRL is well worth a look. It didn’t go nearly as nasty or far as I would have liked, but the acting, characters, and direction are all a bit out of whack in a unique way. It’s by no means the most horrific of the series, but it’s certainly not a bad one either.
RATING: ** and a half (out of four)