Home Sick is an home-made, absurdist splatter film, or maybe a
grotesquely funny parody of a splatter film. Hard to say. Imagine if Troma
or Herschell Gordon Lewis decided to do an interpretation of an Ionesco
play, and you'll have the general idea.
As the story begins, a girl returns from California to her home town in
Alabama, and reluctantly attends a party with some of her former
acquaintances. The film immediately sends a message that it is in
Loonytown by portraying all of the characters with dark circles painted
under their eyes, as if they were characters in a zombie movie and were
just about to turn into the undead. Making matters stranger, the actors
recite their lines like the walk-ons in a high school play.
The party does get a lot livelier when a fellow named Mr. Suitcase shows up,
uninvited. He evokes
Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker, or Robert Preston in The Music Man - a
glib, affable Midwestern con man with neatly trimmed hair, and a perpetual
false smile full of artificially white teeth. He is wearing crisp white
pants, a bow tie, and a clean and neatly pressed powder blue sport coat.
His appearance, however, belies his agenda. He opens up the suitcase which
lends him his moniker, and reveals it to be full of razor blades. He
headlocks one the girls, grabs a blade, and asks everyone at the party to
tell him who they hate. Somebody volunteers the name of a local drug
dealer. Mr. Suitcase then brings the razor blade close to the neck of the
women he's head-locking and cuts ... his own arm. He repeats this ritual
for each person at the party, but as soon as they all reveal the name of
someone they hate, he promptly leaves with the same air of Dale Carnegie
faux good cheer that he started with, apparently unfazed by the experience except for the
rivers of blood covering his new clothes.
Mr. Suitcase doesn't hurt anyone at the party, but the hated people
named by the partygoers soon start dying in grotesquely
sanguine massacres. The party-goers are a trifle concerned, not because
they have charitable feelings for their fellow man, but because one
dickhead at the party told Mr. Suitcase that he hated "everyone else at the
party." Oh, he was probably being sarcastic, but can they rely on the fact
that Mr. Suitcase appreciates a refined sense of irony? Probably not. The
answer changes to "definitely not" when one of their group gets murdered.
The only way they can defend themselves is to get armed and that requires
the services of Uncle Johnny, a crazy local redneck whose only loves are
the Confederacy, good chili and good guns. Johnny supplies the kids from his
generous armory, but once they get guns in their hands, they cannot be
counted on to use them responsibly.
The ending degenerates into a multi-sided battle in which ... well, I'm
not sure who was trying to kill whom and whether they succeeded, but I'm
pretty sure that it doesn't really matter.
Home Sick is a film festival cult favorite that has been kicking around
for years in various edits. The director filmed it when he was 19 years
old. It has now come to DVD in a definitive
release, with deleted scenes, commentary tracks, and various other special
features. It's strictly for those movie-goers who appreciate a truly
weird, underground, micro-indie vibe, and who love the Troma style of
gore, the kind which is exaggerated beyond scary and into silly. There is
no dramatic tension, there are no sensible characters, and the situations
are ludicrous, but the film does have kind of a crazed Grand Guignol
appeal for those who like movies FAR from the beaten path. As for me, I
got a kick out of the appearance of Mr. Suitcase, but soon got bored with
the rest of the movie. The consistently poor line delivery is a constant
reminder that it's just a movie, and that factor alone eliminates any
chance the film might have had to involve the audience after the early
departure of Mr. Suitcase from the film.