March 18, 2008 (U.S. DVD)
Curtis Radclyffe, Romla Walker, Matthew James Wilkinson and Marc Zakian
Gina Philips as Anna
Alex Hassell as Nick
Kellie Shirley as Joolz
Andrew Knott as Steve
Jack Bailey as Clive
John Lebar as Plague Doctor
I don’t typically include the studio-provided overview of a movie when I write about my opinions, but in this case it seemed appropriate because… it is exactly right. This is exactly what The Sickhouse is about and describes the mood and feel of the film perfectly. Don’t know why I find that so amazing… maybe because studio-provided overviews are so often inclined to present a movie as “all that” when the reality is “not much”. Not in this case.
Anna, played by Gina Philips of Jeepers Creepers, is obsessed with her find of evidence that a series of orphanages from the times of the 1700s plague outbreak in London were all run by a single evil doctor who used his hospital to torture, maim and kill the children under cover of the disease rampage. Unfortunately lab testing of some of her artifacts turns up some active plague virus and the health department orders the closing of the site and destruction of the building.
Anna can’t leave well enough alone and sneaks into the building for one last night of data collection – and encounters four teenage scofflaws that ducked into the building to avoid police after stealing a car. One of the teens has also suddenly taken ill and wanders the halls locking padlocks and preventing escape form the evil building. Mayhem ensues.
The most impressive thing about The Sickhouse is that the wheels never really fell off. The story, although a bit confusing and complex, actually made sense throughout. Any remaining loose ends are tied up in one 10-second scene in the end producing both closure and one of those “Ah-ha” moments that I love so much.
The acting in The Sickhouse is pretty good – Gina Philips is believable as the young professional starved to prove herself; old enough to be good at her job and young enough to be impulsive and do stupid things. The rest of the cast was pretty good too – a group of teenage delinquents could very easily go bad on the acting front, but this ensemble held their own.
The production quality was good – albeit a bit dark at times, but that was the mood. I didn’t have trouble seeing what was going on except for the times when it was supposed to be difficult to see what’s going on. I can live with that.
Overall The Sickhouse is on the higher end of the scale as far as straight-to-DVD horror movies go. Made for 2.8 Million British Pounds (roughly $1.4 Million U.S., unless I’m getting my math backward…) the budget is not tiny but certainly not huge… and I think they got some good production quality for the money. Won’t make it to the classic shelf, but I can think of worse ways to spend 100 minutes.