Suitable Flesh (2023) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Suitable Flesh (2023) Review

Horrorific content by angie on June 27th, 2023 | Movie Review | Cursed, Supernatural, Mind Bender, Psychological, Mystery, Maniac, Mad Scientist

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It's about a once-esteemed psychiatrist who helplessly watches her life spiral into a nightmarish maelstrom of supernatural hysteria and gruesome deaths after murdering her young patient, all linked to a seemingly unstoppable ancient curse.

Suitable Flesh was directed by Joe Lynch (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, Knights of Badassdom, and Mayhem) and stars Heather Graham (Compulsion, From Hell, and Terrified), Barbara Crampton (Alone with You, Superhost, and Jakob's Wife), Judah Lewis (The Babysitter: Killer Queen, I See You, and Summer of '84), Johnathon Schaech (Frank and Penelope, Day of the Dead: Bloodline, and Jackals), and Bruce Davison (The Good Neighbor, Captors, and Evil at the Door).

Suitable Flesh Review

H.P. Lovecraft returns to the silver screen in an adaptation that ventures into provocative territory. Director Joe Lynch's "Suitable Flesh" offers a unique and sensual take on Lovecraft's work, diverging from the source material's sexual themes. Dennis Paoli, a frequent collaborator of Stuart Gordon, adapts Lovecraft's "The Thing on the Doorstep" with a gender-swapped twist. Heather Graham stars as Dr. Elizabeth Derby, a psychiatrist who becomes involved in a young man's distressing situation. Asa, portrayed by Judah Lewis, believes something or someone is attempting to possess his body.

Dr. Derby's encounter with Asa's alarming transformations sparks her interest, leading to a disastrous house call. It turns out that Asa may not be delusional but instead a victim of an ancient evil force that seeks new hosts to sustain itself. Following a passionate encounter with Dr. Derby, the entity takes over her body, setting off a perilous chain of events as it evaluates its potential new vessel. Everyone in Dr. Derby's circle becomes endangered as a result.

"Suitable Flesh" satisfies and subverts the expectations of a Lovecraft adaptation. Rather than emphasizing monsters and supernatural elements, the film delves into the desires and intellectual ramifications of eternal existence. While it doesn't shy away from delivering the necessary horror elements when needed, the focus lies on exploring sensuality and the sensations associated with inhabiting new bodies.

This film embraces its erotic nature in a way that may be considered shocking by contemporary standards but would have been more at home during the heyday of erotic cinema in the 90s. The exceptionally committed cast, including Graham, Lewis, and Johnathan Schaech as Dr. Derby's well-meaning but somewhat foolish husband, brings a palpable chemistry to the screen. Their performances elevate the film's erotic atmosphere, making it one of the sexiest horror films in recent memory.

Joe Lynch's realization of "Suitable Flesh" is the culmination of years of development struggles faced by Paoli and the late Stuart Gordon, who had long attempted to bring the story to life. Barbara Crampton, a producer, co-star, and renowned figure in the genre, played a crucial role in shepherding the film to completion and also contributed a supporting role as Dr. Upton, Dr. Derby's colleague at Miskatonic University.

The film explores Lovecraft's mythos by replacing the visuals of ancient deities with a focus on repressed erotic obsession, enhanced by David Matthews' trippy camerawork. The supporting cast, including genre veterans Bruce Davison and Johnathan Schaech, delivers committed performances in this low-budget horror film that wears its heart on its sleeve.

Worth Watching?

"Suitable Flesh" pays homage to the influential works it draws inspiration from, with occasional nods to establishing shots from "Re-Animator" and other Easter eggs for fans to discover. Barbara Crampton's significant role and the appearance of Graham Skipper, who previously starred in the stage production of "Re-Animator: The Musical," further demonstrate the film's reverence for the past while embracing a new direction. In an era of increasingly sterile genre films, "Suitable Flesh" injects a much-needed dose of sensuality, evoking the erotic horror of 90s classics like "Embrace of the Vampire" directed by Anne Goursaud.

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