September 25th, 2023
MOVIE: SUITABLE FLESH
STARRING: HEATHER GRAHAM, BARBARA CRAMPTON, JUDAH LEWIS, BRUCE DAVISON, JONATHAN SCHAECH
DIRECTED BY: JOE LYNCH
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
You could say I have a crush on Joe Lynch’s Suitable Flesh. It’s a revival of erotic horror and a rejuvenation for everyone involved. That especially goes for lead actor Heather Graham, with Lynch directing his tail off, with a spin on the style of the legendary Stuart Gordon, and offering more of what we love from H.P. Lovecraft. This is a killer mix of body possession, steamy thrills, and bloodshed. Which means it has everything movies lack these days. Suitable Flesh is a hardcore kind of horror that crawls inside your brain and lives there rent-free. Let your body be taken over.
It begins at the end. Doctor Elizabeth Derby (Graham) is stuck in a padded cell of a psychiatric hospital, talking to her friend, doctor Upton (Barbara Crampton). The journey is finding out how Doctor Derby got into this position. It started when she met a patient by the name of Asa Waite (Judah Lewis), a younger man in his late 20s, pushing his way in to tell Elizabeth that something was out to get him. At first, it seems like a case of schizophrenia or sheer anxiety. But when Asa takes a phone call, something latches onto him, changing the way he acts. He leaves without answers and creates a mystery that Doctor Derby can’t shake. She wants to help, but it’s more complex, as Asa’s possessed state seduces Doctor Derby, and soon the entity will transfer from one person to the next. Suitable Flesh becomes a twisted game of tag, as the entity latches onto anyone it can hook into, bringing out each character’s darkest desires, till it consumes every inch of who they once were.
Within the first fifteen minutes, Suitable Flesh takes time to sink in, where the dialogue and setting feel closer to an old-school soap opera. There is a purpose to all that. Lynch and writer Dennis Paoli allow their lead character to be a completely sexual and complicated person, with Graham delightfully switching between her unpossessed and transformed self. It is a liberating narrative, featuring a female lead of a certain age, feasting on a younger man, losing control of herself, while taking the sense of choice away from her male counterparts. Although it may take a minute to feel comfortable with the narrative style, Lynch expertly builds the tension, releasing it in ways that characters can’t control.
Although some may be expecting a type of goopy Stuart Gordon throwback as Re-Animator or From Beyond, what Lynch channels instead is similar to Castle Freak or Abel Ferrara’s Body Snatchers. And that’s not to say there aren’t moments of shock, with body parts severed, and twisted acts of chaos. The fun part is seeing the entity pass from one character to the next, as Doctor Upton (Crampton always bringing the goods) becomes more involved, trying to figure out what has made her friend act out of sorts. It may start a bit rocky, but the last half-hour of Suitable Flesh is arguably some of the best horror action in 2023.
It’s the spectacular ending that propels Suitable Flesh to strong results. What also makes me love it more is how much I want to see it again. This is the type of film where the first watch introduces you, you try it on, and the second time is when you appreciate what you get. It’s easily some of Joe Lynch’s best work yet and it’s a welcome introduction to have Heather Graham in many more horror films just like it. Suitable Flesh is the kind of horror that fits just right. Won’t you try it on?
SUITABLE FLESH IS AVAILABLE IN THEATERS AND EVERYWHERE YOU RENT MOVIES ON OCTOBER 27TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady