- Director: Joe Lynch
- Writer: Dennis Paoli
- Stars: Heather Graham, Judah Lewis, Barbara Crampton, Jonathan Schaech, Bruce Davison
Drawing from H.P Lovecraft’s The Thing On The Doorstep, Suitable Flesh is Joe Lynch’s tribute to Stuart Gordon, and it’s a film that easily establishes itself in that delightfully bonkers 1980’s and 1990’s Lovecraft imbued bubble that Gordon had created in his films. Lynch stays true to this whilst still adding his own style to the film.
Opening with Dr. Daniella Upton (Crampton), and two orderlies walking to the room of a very dangerous patient. In that padded room is Dr Upton’s friend, Dr. Elizabeth Derby (Graham). Elizabeth pleads for Daniella to listen to how she got here, Daniella agrees, and Elizabeth recounts the story of how she met the troubled Asa (Lewis) through her psychiatry work. She tells Daniella about his extreme personality disorder which wasn’t really a disorder at all. In actuality it was Asa’s father (Davison) who is possessed by something that wants to try and take Asa’s body. Derby is drawn to Asa, and her life spirals into horny, blood splattered, body swapping madness.
Graham understands the film that was being made. Playing the lead role (originally a male in Lovecraft’s story) with that perfectly unbelievable/believable mix that so many early 90’s erotic thrillers had about their main characters. Dr. Derby is fulfilled in every way, a great job, a great house and an arm candy husband (A fantastic and funny Jonathan Schaech, a dinner cooking, emotionally intelligent man, that spends a lot of time with his shirt off), until Dr. Derby meets Asa. Graham just nails the seriously silly role, she gets to have a lot of fun with it, and I think it’s one of her best performances yet. Crampton is great as per usual, being the calm centre of the film, whilst Lewis gets to play both sides of the coin, being a hysterical young man in need and then flipping to a distant, horny bad boy.
Lynch definitely leans into the 90’s erotic-horror aspect of the film with the very soft lighting and saxophone music but without it ever feeling like he was making fun of the genre or it just being a direct copy. The film isn’t as gory as you would think (although it still has its moments) that a body swap horror film would be, certainly Stuart Gordon didn’t shy away from the gore, however Lynch and screenwriter Dennis Paoli seem more concerned with the psychological aspects of the story. Themes on sex, obsession and desire through the eyes of the main character, being an older woman is refreshing for two reasons. The first reason being that stories from this perspective are few and far between and second reason is that cinema has become so neutered, that there is barely any sex in films now. The very act of seeing a sex scene in a film now, seems so salacious and hopefully that changes because after all it’s just (simulated) sex.
Lynch keeps Suitable Flesh as his own film, whilst honouring Stuart Gordon’s work. It’s not nostalgia, it’s just a film that incorporates Gordon’s sensibilities as well. It takes a little while to really get going but when it does, it’s a wild ride with one of the best final acts in quite a while. Suitable Flesh is a fun throwback horror film that wouldn’t be out of place sitting in the New Release section of your local video store back in 1991.
Suitable Flesh is available in cinemas and everywhere you rent movies on October 27, 2023.