Suitable Flesh

Heather Graham as “Elizabeth Derby” in the horror/thriller film, SUITABLE FLESH. Photo courtesy of AMP and Eyevox. An RLJE Films and Shudder release.

This is the second time that I’ve reviewed a film based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft from RLJE Films. The previous film was Color Out of Space and it was definitely weird, but the performances were amazing. I definitely enjoyed Suitable Flesh more but I do have one or two complaints that we’ll dive into.

Suitable Flesh is an interesting concept and I rather enjoyed the story. In the film, we have a take on Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep with the gender roles reversed.

Seeing two older men toil in a triangle of sorts with Asa Waite, the young female victim/ antagonist in the middle, was something I felt we had seen numerous times in the past. Maybe not THIS story per se, but there was something a little “old fashioned” about the approach. Swapping the genders of the lead protagonists gave an opportunity for a female character to have the same kinds of crises of the heart and body that male characters have had more of for years. Why is it an older man can be accepted as a sexual being in a cautionary tale like this (see FATAL ATTRACTION, BASIC INSTINCT or pretty much any Michael Douglas movie in the 80’s/90’s!) but a woman can’t? That approach to Lovecraft’s work immediately made the material more exciting, provocative and yet still true to his themes of fate — and dancing with the unknown.

Joe Lynch, director

Heather Graham leads the cast as psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby. She’s joined on screen by Jonathon Schaech as her husband, Edward Derby, Judah Lewis as a young man seeking psychiatric help named Asa Waite, and Bruce Davison playing Asa’s father Ephraim. The final cast member is horror icon Barbara Crampton playing Elizabeth’s friend, fellow psychiatrist Daniella Upton. These five individuals give us incredible performances. I wasn’t expecting much going into the film, but at the same time the casting along with the fact that the film played at Toronto After Dark this year, gave me high hopes. The story and the performance made for a great combination that made it easy to watch the film without feeling the need for distraction. That is to say, the film holds your attention from start to finish.

Finding an actress for the leading role who could manage the serious and fun aspects of the part in equal measure was important to us all. Heather Graham is well known for her lively comedic roles. But we don’t see her as often in super serious parts or a part where she’d play four roles in one, the entity, Asa, Beth and my part of Danny as well. I thought it could be a juicy role that would be attractive to her. We asked the casting director to send her an offer. Her response was very positive to the role and to the material. We were thrilled to have her.

Barbara Crampton, actor & producer

In the film, we meet a demon who can take control of another person’s body, trapping them in his previous body. There are rules and caveats that accompany this, as there usually are, but the interesting aspect of the movie to me is that we don’t see the demon. We meet the demon while already within a body and never get a sense of where the story started or how we go to this point. I think that I enjoyed that this was a point in time snapshot of the story. This wasn’t an origin and it wasn’t the conclusion. It was part of a larger story and that’s something we rarely get with films. They always tell the complete story from start to finish or from start to open ending (although I’d rather not talk about those types of films). While this film may tell the story of certain characters, it does not tell us the complete story of everyone involved and the door is definitely left open for a sequel.

As I said, I do have some complaints and they are mostly minor – audio issues, special effects – things that could be done better in a higher budget film, but that were well done for the type of film this was. There were a few bad choices made by characters, but those are choices that needed to be made to get us to the conclusion and they were completely out of left field. I’m also still not sure I understand two of the characters that were introduced. They were minor characters and I suppose they helped ramp up the tension slightly, but they were so trivial that I’m not sure they truly added value. My big complaint, however, was the cinematography. While 95% of the film was great and I enjoyed a lot of the shots, there was an unnecessary camera rotation that was used that detracted from the film. It was one of those techniques that you only see in low budget films and it definitely reminded you that you weren’t watching a blockbuster. Without that out of place camera movement, I was completely enthralled and drawn in by the film, but the introduction of that movement wrenched me out of the experience. It was disappointing after how much they accomplished. However, if that’s my biggest complaint then the movie was still clearly worth watching.

Suitable Flesh was released in theatres and everywhere you rent movies on Friday, October 27.

Suitable Flesh

Movie title: Suitable Flesh

Movie description: Psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby becomes obsessed with helping a young patient suffering extreme personality disorder. But it leads her into dark occult danger as she tries to escape a horrific fate.

Date published: 2023-10-27

Director(s): Joe Lynch

Actor(s): Heather Graham, Judah Lewis, Bruce Davidson, Johnathan Schaech, Barbara Crampton

Genre: Horror

  • Overall
  • White Knuckle Flick