Suitable Flesh (2023) IMDB description: “A psychiatrist becomes obsessed with one of her young patients, who she later discovers is linked to an ancient curse.”
Why I took it off the list: A new horror film loosely based on an H.P Lovecraft story and co-starring genre legend Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, You’re Next)?
Seeing it as the perfect viewing for Halloween time, I simply had to check it off my list! So, let’s dig in!
Review of Suitable Flesh (2023)
Suitable Flesh is a serious throwback flick in a number of ways. It’s a loose adaptation of a Lovecraft story (in this case, The Thing on the Doorstep), fleshed out with a modern setting and added plot kinks. Aside from a more polished look, this could easily be mistaken for one of the similar films that Stuart Gordon directed in the 80s and 90s (such as From Beyond or Castle Freak).
Indeed, Gordon was set to tackle this film before his death, when his protégé Joe Lynch took over. But it still bears more than a few hallmarks of his style and sensibilities. Most notably, it concerns a seemingly unstable protagonist who finds herself in a padded cell, recounting the horrific events that led her there (and that may or may not be over). Gordon’s legacy also continues through the welcome casting of his one-time muse Crampton, also credited as a producer.
What’s more, there’s plenty of both sadistic interplay between characters and unnerving body horror. The film also has an obsession with kinky sexuality that occasionally makes it feel more like an erotic thriller from the 90s, compounded by the presence of 2 veterans of that genre/era in Heather Graham and Johnathon Schaech).
Graham and Crampton Make a Good Double Act
The premise of Suitable Flesh is undeniably shlocky, but it plays out in a highly entertaining and often creepy way. Body-swap horror is nothing new, but this is elevated by the game performances of a well-chosen and talented cast that play to their strengths.
The smart casting starts with Bruce Davison and Judah Lewis as a deeply troubled father-and-son who may or may not be in the grip of some demonic possession. Although Davison has limited screen time, the veteran actor makes the most of it and gives a truly unsettling performance. And Lewis is equally unnerving as an unpredictable, dangerous presence that’s felt even when the actor isn’t onscreen.
But the true stars of the show are leading ladies Graham and Crampton. It’s great to see Graham back in a juicy lead role, and she gets a range of varying states to play, from collected and professional, to totally unhinged. Crampton mostly has to play calm and rational for a change, which she does well, but both she and Graham get some real moments of batshit craziness to chew on, particularly in the wild, immensely satisfying climax.
Total Score: 7/10
Suitable Flesh (2023): Worth Watching?
Yes, if you enjoy wacky horror/thrillers with a Lovecraftian influence, then you’ll find that Suitable Flesh is a worthy addition to the kind of films Stuart Gordon pioneered. Crampton and Graham get some fun things to do, and the story builds up nicely to a wild and satisfying conclusion.
Suitable Flesh (2023)
Directed by Joe Lynch