Monday, February 18, 2013

Women in Horror: Sick Girl

* Spoilers *

Ida Teeter is an entomologist who loves her job, but finds it hard to find a girlfriend that accepts it. Being shy and kind of awkward doesn't help either. All of this changes when her co-worker points out a beautiful girl who sketches in their office lobby every day. Ida is dubious, but eventually learns that her name is Misty Falls and awkwardly asks her out a couple days later. Their relationship steadily progresses and they move in together. Before they met, a large, strange bug was sent to Ida by an anonymous source. It escapes, nests in her pillow, and bites her girlfriend. Misty starts to act strangely, but she dismisses it as sickness. Bad idea.

Lucky McKee’s Sick Girl was featured as an episode in the Masters of Horror TV series. Despite its short runtime, it proved to be an excellent film. Angela Bettis and Erin Brown were perfect as Ida and Misty. Their chemistry was slightly awkward, but sweet and romantic all the same. I found Ida's old fashioned style and deliberate way of speaking, as well as Misty’s frenetic energy, endearing. These characters were unique and surprisingly well fleshed out for the short time allotted to setting up their relationship and their personalities. Their relationship and their sexuality were never used solely to titillate the male audience (as is true with many horror films), but as a normal, heart-warming love story with a deeper meaning than just putting nudity on the screen. 

I believe this film is about the demonization of the homosexual lifestyle by the majority of our society.  Each person in the film that interact with Ida and Misty are representative of an aspect of society and their typical opinions about homosexuality. Ida's landlady Lana Beasley and Misty's father Malcolm Wolf (who is also Ida's teacher) represent the political far right, who are typically older people. They disapprove of Misty and Ida's lifestyle and go so far as to do the harm (by depriving them of a place to live and sending them a giant homicidal bug). Lana even accuses Ida of being a pedophile, a typical and false argument of someone opposing homosexuality. Betty Beasley, Lana's granddaughter, represents the younger people in society who typically are more progressive and generally support homosexuality. Betty looks up to Ida and sees her as a good friend. She also views Ida's relationship with Misty as nice and normal. Ida's coworker Max Grubb represents the typical heterosexual male. If her lesbian relationship isn't titillating him in some way, he doesn't really care about it. He disapproves of Misty and Ida's long term relationship and asks crude questions about it. Of course, these characters don't encompass the entirety of the people they represent, but the general majority.

The film ends with both Misty and Ida largely pregnant with thousands of monstrous insect babies and being controlled by the large original insect that infected Misty. This ending puts into reality the fear that people against homosexuality have: that gay people will somehow destroy society if their relationships and lifestyle become normal. This is a ridiculous notion and shown to be so by this short film. I think Sick Girl portrays American opinions towards homosexuality in a concise and symbolic way while portraying realistic and nuanced characters. I highly recommend this film and also Lucky McKee's other films May and The Woman.

My rating: 10/10 fishmuffins

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