Suitable Flesh

01/08/2024 14:47

Film: Suitable Flesh

Year: 2023

Director: Joe Lynch

Writer: Dennis Paoli

Starring: Heather Graham, Judah Lewis and Bruce Davison



This is a movie that I wanted to see when it was playing at the Gateway Film Center, but I couldn’t get the showtimes to work. This is one instead that I rented on VOD. I heard mixed reactions to it, but I’m an H.P. Lovecraft fan and I knew this is loosely based on one of his stories. These are the reasons that I checked this out ahead of my end of year list.

Synopsis: a psychiatrist becomes obsessed with one of her young patients, who she later discovers is linked to an ancient curse.

We start this one at the end. Dr. Daniella Upton (Barbara Crampton) is looking at a body that has been badly mutilated in the morgue with a pathologist, played by Graham Skipper. Dr. Upton then goes to a padded room where her friend, Dr. Elizabeth Derby (Heather Graham) is held. Dr. Upton wants Liz to tell her what led her to be where she is.

Liz is the psychiatrist from the synopsis. She works with a patient and when their time ends, they leave. Asa Waite (Judah Lewis) comes into her office. Liz tells him that he needs an appointment, but when she sees how troubled he is, she talks to him. Asa gets a phone call and then goes into what looks like a seizure. It is from there that his personality completely changes. He then leaves and Liz can’t stop thinking about him.

This continues even when she’s home. Her husband, Edward (Jonathon Schaech), tries talking to her and he notices that she’s distant. This continues from here. That is until Liz leaves a patient in a hypnotic trance to talk to him. She even makes a house call when she shouldn’t. It is there that she meets Asa’s father, Ephraim (Bruce Davison). He is a nasty old man that has gone through a stroke, heart attack and cancer. He even cuts Liz with a long knife that he has. We see the blood absorbed in an old journal on his desk.

Things take a dark turn from here when she goes to Waite’s house at night when getting a panicked call, beginning for help. Edward doesn’t think it is a good idea. Ephraim does a ritual to take over the body of his son and in turn, gets into the body of Liz. She makes a horrible decision as well to have sex with her patient. It is then a fight for survival as whatever was inside of Ephraim and Asa, now has its sights on Liz.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I’ll start is that this is an interesting, updated version of this Lovecraft story, The Thing on the Door Step. Now I knew that I read this one but couldn’t fully remember what this story was about. I did go on to Wikipedia to read through the synopsis to realize that this incorporated more than I even realized, which I’ll credit writer Dennis Paoli and director Joe Lynch for. They captured that Lovecraftian vibe in a modern setting. There are things here like names with Ephraim Waite and Edward Derby, to things that happen in the framework of the story as well. Also, I’d say how Liz narrates the story fits in with Lovecraft stories.

Then to delve a bit more into this, I love that this is taking place with doctors in important positions. Liz is a psychiatrist and I believe that Dani Upton is as well. Nearby is Miskatonic University which is another nod to Lovecraft. These are intelligent people. Liz thinks that Asa has split personalities. She sees there is more to it when she is taken over by whatever took over Ephraim and now the son. Liz struggles to get Dani to believe before it is too late. I like that these characters struggle to understand since it is fantastical. This is also a terrifying idea to have another entity take over their body. I do have a slight issue that we don’t get the name of what is taking everyone over. Doesn’t ruin it, but a slight negative from me.

What makes this better though is the acting of these characters. I love that we see a baseline from Liz, Asa and Dani before whatever is in Ephraim takes over. That is what we need. Graham is great at showing this change. What is interesting there is that Edward doesn’t notice. That makes me believe their marriage had issues before Liz cheats on him with Asa. Lewis also has a great performance when mid-scene he changes. There were little cues that him and Graham did to mimic Davison’s Ephraim, who was also solid in a limited role. He does a baseline for others so that’s good. Credit to all of them for that. Crampton and Graham look amazing here. The former doesn’t have a lot to work with here, but she’s a good secondary character that plays into the climax. I’ll also say here that Schaech, Skipper and the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed. We do also get a cameo by director Lynch as well.

The last things to go into would be filmmaking. For the most part, the cinematography is good. There is an iris effect used to focus in on things before we cut to black. I don’t know if that was needed. It made me think of older Lovecraft adaptations, so I will say that. The framing of things was solid. There are also good practical effects here. Those were great, especially with a body moving at the end. Now there is CGI with people falling out of windows that I didn’t care for. We also use them in other spots as well. It is fine in the grand scheme, but I noticed. Other than that, the soundtrack fit what was needed.

In conclusion, this is a solid adaptation of a Lovecraft story. I do like what they do to update this to a modern world. I thought the acting was good. Special credit there to Graham and Lewis. The rest of the cast push them to where they end up. There are moments here where get good filmmaking. The framing and practical effects lead the way. The quibbles come from framing techniques and CGI. I rather enjoyed my time here and incorporating sexuality here adds another dimension as well. If you like Lovecraft and adaptations of his work, then give this a watch. It was a solid movie in my opinion.


My Rating: 7 out of 10