This movie was going to go either way. Attracted by the concept of a ghostly plague doctor haunting an abandoned orphanage, I risked 90 more minutes of my life on a movie which I hoped would be shit scary, and hoped to god it wasn't just the shit part which was prominent.
From the presentation of the opening credits I thought my luck might be in as the flickery imagery of historical medical notes and the primitive cures and surgeries which accompanied them set a nice brutal tone and atmosphere. Sadly it didn't take long for the bubble to burst, from the first conversation I knew what I was in for, plenty of bad acting taking itself too seriously and a by the numbers budget horror movie.
The plot is pretty much what is described above. An archaeology student visits and off limits research dig located in the bowels of an abandoned orphanage. Through a rather unlikely chance event she is joined by a group of delinquents whose boozy drug fuelled night is cut short when they are involved in a hit and run. Soon enough, and it is never really explained how or why, the ghost of a plague doctor is on the rampage killing and possessing the group.
In many ways it is difficult for me to review this movie owing to the confusing nature of its plot. It wasn't something I didn't get per se, what was confusing was the 'rules' of the movie and the glaring inconsistency between events. Throughout the movie I was never sure what the doctor really wanted, and in deed why he waited to kill some people and possess others. There were several attempts to explain things, but in all honesty they were articulated poorly and I still never really saw the point to any of it. I'm not going to even attempt to discuss the appalling twist which just about finished the movie off in my eyes.
The acting isn't all bad, and some of the cast begin to pull their characters together as the movie progress, and although they are very much generic, the cast act out their characters reactions to events with some consistency. The location of the orphanage, a crucial element to the success of any chiller in my opinion, was not all that great. Some of the rooms were dark, grimy and suitable eerie, where as others simply looked like the basement corridors of an office building and did little to maintain any sort of atmosphere, never mind be actually scary.
Rounding off the whole package with predictably lacklustre effect were the special effects. In all honesty with the generic nature of the movie I half expected the doctor to have an J-Horror element to it, however, sadly its influence didn't even stretch that far and what I was presented with was a home PC special, with the doctor popping in and out of shots like something off a cheap You-Tube video. The CGI in this movie is horrible! I have no idea why they didn't simply just put someone in a plague doctor costume and be done with it. There are some decent blood and gore effects which deserve at least a mention, and one death in particular was pretty gruesome as a mother attempts a home made C-section, but for the most parts the deaths are over quickly and make little impact.
Overall this movie is a typical 4/10. It never gets any better than mediocre with most of the movie falling below any sort of standard I would class as presentable. The only thing that I would say is that, thinking back, the pace wasn't too bad. If you are looking for a cheap, cheesy ghost movie, it would deliver something which would at least feel as if it was over quickly. For the most part through, and I'm sure you would agree, this movie is a missed opportunity. Anybody with any sort of talent could make an abandoned 17th century orphanage scary , sadly 'The Sick House' is presents nothing of the sort, unless you wish to make a sarcastic comment about the CGI that is. I wouldn't go as far as saying this is one to avoid, but you wouldn't be missing much if you did!