Jeff Dylan Graham
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Home Sick (2010)
12th Nov 10
Bill Mosely grins like a loon and Tiffany Shepis shows us her boobies… ah, the comforting familiarity of horror!
An Alabama-set indie horror curio which knows its audience and grabs them from the very beginning with a prologue featuring a knife through the head and a pair of sexy “alternative” girls making out. Life is short, folks, and the two things it needs more of are most certainly cranial knifings and sexy alternative girls getting it on. Subsequently, a self-mutilating stranger (Bill Moseley) shows up at a Yuletide homecoming party rife with drug-abusing losers, carrying a brief-case full of razorblades. He asks each one of them in turn to name someone they really, really hate. One of them happens to name all of his friends, and soon everyone named is being offed one by one by a mysterious black clad killer.
The kind of movie in which the characters sit around watching Evil Dead Trap 2, this is also a refreshing contemporary genre flick in which the young folks look credibly pallid and fucked up rather than the buff Gap models and swimsuit babes you tend to get in the majority of current releases. It doesn’t stint on genre-savvy casting, starting with Tiffany Shepis’ role as a coke-snorting minimum-wage cleaner who inevitably shows us her breasts. In one of the most discomforting scenes, a kite-high Shepis in her underwear laughs, writhes and vomits over a very bloody, fresh corpse of a friend, before getting her foot split down the middle and head bashed in with a mallet.
The hard-edged old-school gore (and non CG-enhanced make-up effects) are a large part of the appeal here, with an abundance of in-your-face razor-slashing, exposed broken bones, torso bisections, a grim close-up fingernail extraction and even a hard to watch variant on American History X’s curb-biting teeth-smashing sequence. Kudos for this level of strong splatter FX on a skimpy budget.
Two extended cameos steal the show. Tom Towles is terrific as just the kind of guy you’d turn to when a psychopath is after you…and you fancy some world class chilli. As a redneck with a huge weapons cache who dreams of having cans in the supermarket featuring his face a la Paul Newman, he’s great fun, though, typical of the uneven tone of the movie overall, his broad comic interlude near the end is at odds with the largely downbeat nature of what has preceded it. Towles makes Dennis Hopper in Texas Chainsaw 2 seem low key, while that film’s Chop-top, Moseley, relishes his single extended scene as a (characteristically) crazed, grinning madman with gleaming teeth who sets the plot in motion.
Technically the flick - which employs flash cuts, jump cuts and fast-forwards - is rough around the edges and story-wise it falls at various coherence hurdles, never quite settling on what it wants to be. Given that director Wingard was just 19 when he made it, all of these flaws are surely forgivable. Ending on a note of blood-caked insanity a la The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it is refreshingly unpredictable. And Tiffany Shepis is still this generation’s Linnea Quigley, particularly now our generation’s Linnea Quigley (played by Linnea Quigley) now looks like a cruel cloning experiment gone pear-shaped.