Suitable Flesh: Review. By Alif Majeed.
For nostalgic horror fans, there is a lot to expect in Suitable Flesh. Based on an HP Lovecraft short story, it also serves as a writing comeback for Dennis Paoli. Having written some classics of the B-horror genres from the 80s, it is interesting to see his take on the tale. Also costarring scream queen legend Barbara Crampton, who has also co-produced the movie, you might expect the movie to be a send-up to the Stuart Gordon horror movies of yore. But even with all the incredible ingredients to come up with a new-age classic, it comes across as a what-if movie that looks like it was in desperate need of a bigger budget.
As a horror movie, it brings nothing new to the table. Coming off the heels of The Exorcist Believer, another recent movie involving procession and the occult, it treads territory that is very familiar to horror fans.
Heather Graham portrays Elizabeth Derby, a psychiatrist who is accused of murder, and the movie unfolds largely from her perspective. With a framing device where she is narrating her predicament to her colleague Daniella (Barbara Crompton), she narrates the strange tale of Asa and his grandfather, played by Jadah Lewis (The Babysitter) and Bruce Davison (X Men), and how demonic possession has a part to play in all of this. Fans of horror movies won’t find it hard to figure out the beats as it does not stray too far away from the template.
Despite the predictability of the plot, you get a sense of the danger lurking around and would be curious to find out what happens next. Joe Lynch, the director, has assembled a talented cast of actors for the movie and they stay committed throughout despite the limitations placed by the low budget.
Sometimes you wish the actors had a bit more fun as despite being in a B-movie, they play it a bit more straight than you might expect them to. Even in the scenes where the actors are possessed, they play it straight, even if the easy way out is to ham it up.
Again, the low-budget trappings also hinder the proceedings as you wish they had a bigger budget to play with. For example, scenes portraying the possessions involve jerking the camera around and the actors twitching their fingers to show something in them that has changed.
Personally, I was hoping for the movie to be a bit more like Paoli’s collaborations with Stuart Gordon, like the beloved Re-Animator, and From Beyond, which were also based on HP Lovecraft’s works. But that is an unfair comparison to make because it will end up disappointing if looked at from that perspective.
It is not as memorable as those aforementioned movies, but it is possible that they were not attempting to make it so. Though you are likely to not remember much of it beyond the initial viewing, the cast made it worth a watch.
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