Home Sick – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Tension and unease permeate a small get together of friends for Claire, who has returned to her Alabama hometown after spending time in California. But nothing can prepare them when a psychotic grinning salesman who calls himself Mr. Suitcase (Bill Moseley) barges into the party and demands that they each tell him someone that they hate. The freaked out friends submit to his demands, hoping to make him leave, with Tim even going so far as to say he hates everyone in the room. Satisfied, with their answers, Mr. Suitcase makes his exit.

Over the next few days, the people that Claire and her friends named start showing up brutally murdered at the hands of a black clad monstrosity whose only purpose is slaughter. Thinking that the psychotic man who visited their party has started killing their unintentionally named victims, and with the realization that their lives are in danger thanks to Tim’s answer, the friends head over to Tim’s uncle’s house to load up on guns. But first, drinks at the local watering hole and few lines of coke.

Indie film director Adam Wingard and collaborative writer E.L. Katz, who have been prolific short film creators over the past several years make a shocking feature length debut with Home Sick that owes much of its success to its unrelenting gore effects and a few noteworthy names to market amongst their mainly unknown cast. Wingard backs up the bait with an inherit ability to make the obviously low budget film look great and is coupled with Katz’s bizarre over-the-top script that leaves much of the film’s plot a deliberately unanswered mystery. Together, this pair has concocted a cinema puree that is destined to rank highly among horror fans searching for a new addition to their top ten.

Amongst the cast names that horror fans will instantly recognize is Bill Moseley, who has been a force to be reckoned with from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to The Devil’s Rejects. Although his appearance here as Mr. Suitcase is brief, his performance is definitely a highlight of the movie and his unnerving interaction sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Tiffany Shepis, an insanely busy direct-to-video scream queen who got her start at Troma. As Candice, she provides a set of healthy breasts to oogle and gleefully covers herself in blood. Finally, Tom Towles, also of Rejects fame, gives a ludicrous performance as a crazed gun-toting chili-cooking redneck. This trio helps to set aside this movie from the rest of the gore-drenched low budget schlock that filmmaker hopefuls parade around as they try to capture the fickle horror enthusiast’s attention.

But it is Jonathan Thornton, along with his special effects company Disturbing Images, that truly deserves a round of applause for giving Home Sick the staying power that will inevitably win over the deadened hearts of extreme cinema seekers. Thornton’s purely practical effects gives the viewers a reason to cheer for the continued use of prosthetics and make-up, with gory splatter that ranges from the viciously surreal to the painfully all-too-real. Thornton, whose work is obviously inspired by the likes of Lucio Fulci and Herschell Gordon Lewis, is right on par with well-known contemporaries like those at Toe Tag Pictures. From the opening kill involving a knife through the head, to fingernails being torn off one by one, to a fist punch through someone’s skull, Thornton keeps the squirms high and the body count even higher.

But all is not perfect for this grisly shocker looking to make a name for itself. Wingard, who has an eye for cinematography and uses plenty of filters to hide the film’s 16mm origins, has trouble hiding the limitations of budget, locations and principle actors. Often times, one or two shots in a scene will betray what has otherwise been a great sequence, but it is just enough to pull you out of the moment. Similarly, Katz’s script often calls for colorful comedy and bits of banter that may look good on paper but do not come across as they should. Thankfully however, the duo’s professionalism does keep these momentary glitches to a minimum.

Now, after making the rounds of film festivals and horror conventions over the past year, Wingard and Katz have finally unleashed their Alabama trailer trash bloodbath on DVD with the help of the film’s executive producers over at Synapse Films. Home Sick may have a very limited audience, due to the outrageously graphic violence, but those that dare to dwell within these ninety minutes will most likely find the gruesome meal they’ve been hungering for.

Synapse Films provides the original widescreen transfer of the film, and includes a Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack.

Audio Commentary – Adam Wingard and E.L. Katz provide a dissection of their movie, which will be of particular interest to other aspiring horror directors out there.

Deleted Opening Sequence – An alternate opening that would have introduced some of the main characters

Interview – Bill Moseley discusses his mysterious character Mr. Suitcase

In A Room Where Darkness Counts – This featurette includes director Adam Wingard ranting and raving about making his movie and violence in horror movies.

Short Films – Three short films by Wingard and Katz are featured including “The Girlfriend”, “1,000 Years Sleep” and “Laura Panic”

If you’re in need of latching onto the next underground horror masters pushing the limits of extreme violence, look no further than the film debut of Wingard and Katz.


Synapse Films presents Home Sick. Directed by Adam Wingard. Starring Lindley Evans, Matt Lero, Bill Moseley, Tiffany Shepis, Tom Towles. Written by E.L. Katz. Running time: 89 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: August 26, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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