BY BECCA JOHNSON JANUARY 23, 2024
Director Joe Lynch has had a couple of endeavours into the horror genre, with 2017's office virus thriller Mayhem and 2007's Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Despite not being the strongest additions to the genre, his film-making has always shown promise, and many have been intrigued to see what he delivers next. This time around, we are promised an erotic, Lovecraftian flick, with some excellent horror alumni in the cast; thankfully, Suitable Flesh delivers. With excellent performances from a strong cast, gloriously grim body horror and a cerebral, sexy, body-swapping storyline, Suitable Flesh is a unique watch that's worth your time.
Psychiatrist Elizabeth Derby becomes obsessed with helping a young patient who is suffering from extreme personality disorder. However, it soon leads her into occult danger as she tries to escape from a horrific fate.
Say Barbara Crampton is starring in your movie, and horror fans come running. Add in Judah Lewis of The Babysitter and Summer of 84 fame, and a comeback from Heather Graham, and you've really piqued the interest of the community. It won't be a surprise to hear that the cast here are absolutely fantastic. Graham and Lewis have the hardest job of all, as their body-swapping storyline relies on them to switch up their personalities often – they are entirely believable. This is a much more mature role for Judah Lewis, and his first foray into the horror genre playing an adult character; he really crushes it and shows immense capability. Hopefully, he sticks around in this genre, because with his existing fantastic filmography, it would be fun to see him develop even more. Crampton doesn't receive as much screen-time as fans would want, but every time she appears, she is unsurprisingly great and steals the show. She anchors it nicely.
Suitable Flesh manages to balance it's eroticism and it's horror elements well. It certainly doesn't hold back with it's saucy scenes, and despite not much nudity being included, it undeniably delivers regardless. The sex scenes don't feel forced into the story, as they nicely fit in with the plot and feel natural and well crafted. The actors certainly have chemistry which helps. On the flip-side, there is plenty of horror and it isn't afraid to get gruesome. Based on H. P. Lovecraft's 'The Thing on the Doorstep', it's main focus is body horror, and it's very bloody – gore hounds will find plenty to enjoy. It also includes some fantastical horror with it's body-swapping, ancient curse premise, and that works well alongside everything else. Suitable Flesh is gory, kinky and a cerebral wild ride. Despite being on the psychological side, it's easy enough to follow and doesn't rely too heavily on ambiguity.
Unfortunately, Suitable Flesh does have a couple of issues within it's execution that stop it from reaching true greatness. As good as the sex and body-swapping scenes are, things do get repetitive. Though the third act kicks things up a notch and a satisfying climax is given, the first two acts do play about with the same ideas a little too frequently. There are many scenes that feel exactly the same, from the way they are acted to the way they are shot, and some are likely to find this grating. The cinematography is questionable at times, with filters that whilst are unique, don't always work to amplify the scene they are placed over. This is an element that will likely come down to personal preference, as many will appreciate the creative visuals.
Suitable Flesh is a competent horror movie, and definitely Lynch's best so far. With it's unique and psychological premise, it isn't an easy story to translate to screen, but a fantastic job is done by all and everything comes together well. The performances rock, it's a fun gory time, the body-swapping provides so much enjoyment and it's suitably kinky and sexy. Despite repeating itself a little throughout the first two acts, the third act solidifies itself as one of the strongest of the genre in recent memory. The film is certainly at it's best towards the climax, and really showcases how to use a modest budget well. Suitable Flesh is memorable, sinister, twisty and engaging, and is an excellent addition to the Shudder streaming service.