‘Sick’ Brilliantly Captures the Paranoia and Uncertainty Induced by Lockdown
*This post contains spoilers for the movie Sick. If you haven’t yet seen it, please bookmark this post, watch the film on Peacock, then come back for an analysis of the picture’s depiction of the lockdown phase of the pandemic. *
COVID has taken a massive toll on our collective mental health. Crime rates went sky-high during the peak of the pandemic and the ripple effect from that can still be seen. Countless relationships dissolved under the pressure of sheltering in place. During that time, one vocal faction took to social media to criticize protocols for ‘infringing on their rights’ while another loudly criticized those that weren’t in compliance with said protocols. Everyone had something to say and social media effectively became a war zone.
As time passed, I eventually started to feel like nothing I was doing was right. For a lot of us, cabin fever began to wear away at reality. I, for one, didn’t feel like I could trust myself or my own experience. I followed social distancing protocol, wore a mask, and did my best to be responsible and courteous. But the deeper we got into lockdown, the more I began to mistrust my own thoughts and ideas. I worried that I wasn’t doing enough. Sometimes, I didn’t wipe down my groceries. Did that make me a monster? I worried about being a silent carrier. I worried about unintentionally killing someone.
That constant fretting eroded my mental health to the point where I couldn’t tell up from down. I was a basket case that couldn’t even see to what extent I was ailing because I was doing my best just to get through each day. And that didn’t allow a lot of time to reflect upon the rationale behind what I was feeling or why I was feeling it.
All that to say that Sick (which follows two friends that make the fateful decision to quarantine together at a rural vacation home only to be stalked by a group of masked killers) really nails its depiction of that very fragile mental state that so many of us found ourselves in during lockdown. Many of us had very little perspective on anything outside what was directly in front of us. We had very little hope that the pandemic was ever going to end or even lessen in severity. Each day seemed to bring higher case counts and deaths than the one before. It was a battle just to get out of bed and exist, oftentimes.
We would awaken each morning (or afternoon in my case) to live a variation of the day before for what felt like an eternity. It was Groundhog Day. The activities I used to take pleasure in no longer brought me any joy. Sick effectively takes me back to that very place. Fortunately, it doesn’t bog us down with a painstaking look at just how bad things actually were during lockdown. But Sick does capture the essence of that mental state and even pokes some good-natured fun at the most trying portion of the pandemic to date.
In one highly memorable sequence, lead character Parker (Gideon Adlon) is running from one of the killers and encounters a motorist on the highway. When she tries to get in the car, the driver locks the doors and demands Parker put on a mask. When Parker says she doesn’t have one with her, the operator of the automobile recoils, contemplating whether to let the blood-soaked young woman with a panicked look on her face into her car sans face covering.
As it turns out, the woman piloting the motor vehicle is one of the killers and gives Parker a chloroformed mask to put on. But the sentiment behind that sequence absolutely sums up what so many of us felt. It was like we forgot how to think critically. And many of us lost sight of common sense. Lockdown made it so much harder to get perspective and recognize the most pressing issue in a scenario like the one described above. The situation is certainly exaggerated and I don’t think most people would have actually reacted quite like that. But that scene stands as a perfect sendup of the type of confusion many of us (understandably) felt during that trying time.
Additionally, the realization that the killers were trying to stop irresponsible people from spreading COVID… By killing them… was a brilliant flourish. As far as I know, that particular extreme wasn’t reached during the lockdown phase of the pandemic. But that type of misguided reasoning was on full display. I heard several stories of families destroyed because of disagreements over masks. Face coverings were and continue to be an important tool for slowing the spread of COVID. But so many of us couldn’t see the bigger picture. In short, cutting a family member out of your life, rather than just agreeing to only meet via FaceTime until it was safer to congregate in person without a mask would have been so much more appropriate a solution for both sides.
But pandemic-related loss of perspective caused many of us to misplace our minds and the ability to clearly discern the best course of action for the greater good. That experience is effectively mirrored (and amplified for comedic impact) by the ill-advised team of killers in the bitingly satirical and effectively chilling home invasion slasher, Sick.
For a straightforward critique of the film, you can scope Dread Central managing editor Josh Korngut’s rave review right here.