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Suitable Flesh – Toronto After Dark 2023

TADFF 2023 Review Suitable Flesh
Joe Lynch’s attempts with Suitable Flesh to follow in the footsteps of Stuart Gordon have resulted in a very uneven film that is more an imitation to films like Re-Animator and From Beyond rather than a proper homage.

Suitable Flesh – Toronto After Dark 2023

Release Date: October 27, 2023
Runtime: 01:40
Synopsis:
A psychiatrist becomes obsessed with one of her young clients with multiple personalities.

Table of Contents

A psychiatrist switches bodies with one of her patients in . Elizabeth Derby () is a psychiatrist who is approached in her office by Asa Waite (), who wants her help to save him from his father, Ephraim (). Elizabeth is shocked when Asa suddenly changes personalities in front of her eyes and visits Ephraim, seeing that he owns a book with drawings of octopus-like creatures. Elizabeth soon discovers that Ephraim has been using an occult spell to switch bodies with Asa, who soon does the same with her. Concerned about permanently losing control of her body, Elizabeth seeks the help of her friend and colleague Daniella Upton ().

Suitable Flesh Synopsis

Suitable Flesh is a body-swap horror film directed by Joe Lynch (Mayhem) and written by Dennis Paoli (Re-Animator, From Beyond), loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft's 1937 short story “The Thing at the Doorstep.” The film was created as a tribute to the late director Stuart Gordon, with the film being produced by Gordon's regular collaborators, Barbara Crampton and Brian Yuzna.

Heather Graham (Boogie Nights) stars in the film as Elizabeth Derby, the latest victim of a demonic entity that hops from body to body. With Elizabeth's consciousness trapped in the body of Asa Waite, played by Judah Lewis (Summer of 84), the entity takes control of her body and seduces her husband Edward (). As Elizabeth learns that the only way to destroy the entity is to destroy the mind of its host, she decides to take extreme measures to save herself.

My Thoughts on Suitable Flesh

At the very least, Suitable Flesh successfully pays tribute to Stuart Gordon's films through its over-the-top gore. This includes the Re-Animator callback of a talking severed head and a body still moving after multiple attempts to kill it. The entire final act of Suitable Flesh is pure body-horror insanity.

However, there is something tonally off about the first two-thirds of Suitable Flesh, which a committed Elizabeth Derby narrates to a skeptical Daniella Upton. At best, the film comes off like an incredibly sleazy soap opera, while at worst, the film plays out like late-night softcore pornography. While Heather Graham is quite solid at performing as both her regular and possessed self, I was not the biggest fan of Johnathon Schaech's performance as Elizabeth's husband Edward, whose first scene has him puppeteering the fish he's serving for dinner (with the very taboo choice of serving red wine with the dish).

Ultimately, Joe Lynch's attempts with Suitable Flesh to follow in the footsteps of Stuart Gordon have resulted in a very uneven film. While the film's bloody climax makes for a very good time, it comes after a lacklustre first two acts. There is plenty in the film for fans of Re-Animator and From Beyond to like, however, the film is ultimately more an imitation than a proper homage.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.