I enjoy the purity of the independent film maker. Long before Hollywood gets there claws into most of these fellas, they created something outrageous that probably landed them where they are at. See, when young indie film makers set out to do what they do, there’s NOTHING that can stop them. No budget? We use ingenuity. No “actors”? We wrangle in the willing who have enough edge to pull off the material. I’m not saying the formula is foolproof. But, the fact is, when there isn’t much to work with, and even less to lose, the independent film makers of the world strive to knock down barriers, set fire to taboos, and make a statement, damnit!
Writer/director Eben McGarr set out to do that with his Synapse Films release, Sick Girl. This beast of film is about a girl named Izzy. Izzy’s got an older brother who’s taken the place of a holy figure in her life, a little brother who has trouble standing up to the opposition, and a whole lotta familial issues that hinder her from curbing her rage. When Izzy’s brother is sent off to fight in the Middle East, she’s left with the responsibility of holding down the fort. At first, it would seem that she’s enjoying her role as the family head, but we soon learn it has come with some consequences that result in a very brow-lifting climax.
I have to admit, I really loved this flick. Though as the film began, I felt myself getting ready to role the ol’ eyes, the development of the characters drug me right back by the scruff of my neck and forced me to pay attention. One of the most ironic aspects of the story is that despite Izzy’s torturous and murderous ways, she’s very soft spoken and seems to be normal…almost a plain jane. But as things progress, it’s apparent that that’s the furthest thing from the truth. There’s a sweet quality to her that you can’t help empathizing with. Sure, she cuts dicks off but hey- we’ve all been there!
McGarr, whether consciously or not, has a lot of bright color in the film, which adds to the dreamlike state of the whole picture. Sick Girl has a softness surrounding it’s very prickly exterior that adds a healthy dose of humanity to the exploitation aspect. Leslie Andrew’s performance as Izzy reminds me a bit of Christina Lindberg in “The Call Her One Eye”. It’s quiet at times, even amidst the chaos which sets up a really nasty and angular atmosphere. I feel like Eben McGarr had a smartass grin on his face the whole time he made this. Like he’d just gotten away with something really messed up and there was no one to stop him. And there is definitely truth to that notion. There are some really striking images in this movie that fall under the screwed up category. It’s fun to watch the nastiness unfold and like I said earlier, this climax got me.
Knowing Synapse’s reputation for cleaning up long lost classics and giving them a proper release, it does my heart good to see them getting a hold of some new gems and show the world what new, exciting cinema is on the horizon. With any luck, we’ll be seeing/hearing more from Eben McGarr soon enough. Until then, get a hold of Sick Girl and prepare yourself for a great, independent film.