[Tribeca Film Festival Review] SUITABLE FLESH

[Tribeca Film Festival Review] SUITABLE FLESH

SUITABLE FLESH stars Heather Graham as Elizabeth, Judah Lewis as Asa, Barbara Crampton as Danielle, Johnathon Schaech as Edward, and Bruce Davison as Asa’s father Ephraim.

In addition to a stellar and cohesive cast directed by Joe Lynch, SUITABLE FLESH features a bevy of perfectly executed combat-and-gore sequences led by Special Makeup Effects supervisor Greg McDougall, Visual Effects producer Jason Richard Miller, and cinematographer David Matthews.

There’s something about Dr. Elizabeth Derby’s new patient that she just can’t keep her mind off of.

College student Asa Waite drops into Elizabeth’s psychiatric office without an appointment one day. Terrified and desperate for help, he tells her that he’s been having out-of-body experiences and he’s afraid of his father who, he says, wants his body. After having a convulsive episode, Asa appears to have changed. He’s no longer the scared kid who blew in; he’s a smooth-talking man with a craving for cigarettes. And sex.

Color Elizabeth intrigued.

She gives Asa her personal number and offers to treat him pro bono. She speculates that he could have dissociative identity disorder.

At home, she and her husband Edward have a night of passionate lovemaking. Well, her husband is passionate. Elizabeth’s enjoying herself, too, but her mind is… elsewhere.

She can’t stop thinking about Asa; the feeling appears to be mutual. A frantic late-night call from her newest patient brings Elizabeth to the house he shares with his father. There, the two engage in a sordid tryst, during which Elizabeth herself has an out-of-body experience.

From there, things quickly spiral into utter madness, shoving Elizabeth into a gruesome battle with a horrifying and hedonistic otherworldly entity that seeks to possess her mind, body, and soul. Actually, just her body.

Elizabeth’s plans go sideways and she ends up in a padded cell in a psychiatric hospital. Now, on top of everything else, she has to convince her best friend and colleague, Dr. Danielle Upton, that she hasn’t totally lost her mind.

Joe Lynch’s latest film SUITABLE FLESH is based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Thing on the Doorstep.” But the film isn’t just an adaptation (although, there are plenty of Lovecraftian easter eggs). While screenwriter Dennis Paoli’s script does breathe fresh life into the tale, it also serves as a commentary on the fluid nature of the spectrums of gender and sexuality, wrapped up in an action-packed thrill ride that perfectly blends psychological horror, body horror, and humor.

While the entire cast is fantastic, Graham and Lewis are particularly noteworthy. Graham seamlessly shifts back and forth between compassionate and curious (albeit unsatisfied), and aggressive and uninhibited. Similarly, Lewis nails his own multifaceted and layered performance. While the two of them are compelling and interesting on their own, their shared scenes are truly something to behold—funny, provocative, and filled with edge-of-your-seat tension.

Horror icon Barbara Crampton’s deadpan portrayal of Danielle captures the audience’s attention from her first appearance; Crampton plays the role of producer in this film as well. Schaech provides comic relief as straight-man Edward to Graham’s increasingly unhinged Elizabeth. And although he’s only in a few scenes, Davison’s performance as the chain-smoking creeper Ephraim is memorable.

In all, SUITABLE FLESH is a playful and titillating Lovecraftian horror as well as a love letter to the late Stuart Gordon, who directed another Lovecraft adaptation: a little film called Re-Animator. If you have a fondness for psychosexual thrillers with plenty of bloodshed, SUITABLE FLESH is sure to satisfy.

SUITABLE FLESH had its world premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival.

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