Heather Graham plays a possessed therapist in the old school horror throwback Suitable Flesh, and critics are here for the randy thriller from director Joe Lynch. The film was in development by ’80s horror master Stuart Gordon before his death in 2020, and the Re-Animator director’s influence can apparently be felt all over the project
Infused with Lovecraftian, body-swapping horror, Graham does quadruple duty in Suitable Flesh as she switches personalities on the fly while her character, Elizabeth, goes through a wild journey of sexual rediscovery and decapitation.
You can see what the critics are saying below:
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast:
Graham, it turns out, was made for this kind of mayhem, vacillating between panicked heroine (when she’s Elizabeth) and alluring and canny villain (when she’s the entity) with just-barely-over-the-top verve. Whether leering at her prey or exploring her body with her hands, Graham handles her dual-role duties with requisite panicked hysteria and lewd poise.
Adam White, The Independent:
Nothing is more screamingly Nineties than Boogie Nights star Heather Graham bonking to the dramatic wail of a saxophone as curtains waft sensually around her. It’s just one of the many nods to cinema past in Suitable Flesh, a gooey horror throwback that answers a question only the bravest screenwriters would dare ask: what would happen if Basic Instinct lost Sharon Stone and replaced her with a body-swapping, ambisexual hell demon who smokes rollies and rips people’s heads off?
Dennis Harvey, Variety:
There are some yuks (and yucks) to be had in his frequent writing collaborator Dennis Paoli’s very loose, gender-reversed riff on the cult fantasist’s lesser-regarded 1933 short story “The Thing on the Doorstep.” But director Joe Lynch haplessly plays much of this supernatural tale as an erotic thriller, the uncertainty of satirical intent leaving his actors looking silly. … It’s a movie best watched after a few libations, which might make more of the laughs play as deliberate.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
Paoli’s script doesn’t really dig into the character’s mindset (a nuanced psychological study this ain’t), but thanks to the meta-textual edge of Graham’s casting and the breathy repressiveness of her multifaceted performance, it doesn’t really have to. The movie’s porny overtones are strong enough to make “Suitable Flesh” feel like a veritable séance for the faded spirit of Rollergirl, even if Elizabeth is the last person to recognize any of the past lives that she might happen to host over the course of this story — human or otherwise.
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com:
While neither particularly profound nor earth-shatteringly scary, “Suitable Flesh” is better than passable grisly horror fun in a very specific tradition. A tradition hinted at by the presence of Barbara Crampton in the cast and a title card situating the goings-on taking place at a medical facility called “Miskatonic.” Yup, this movie is set in Lovecraft Country. Old-school.
Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting:
Fans of Lovecraft will find a treasure trove of Easter eggs to mine here. Still, it’s the way that Lynch seamlessly inserts Suitable Flesh into the same conversation as Stuart Gordon’s Lovecraft adaptations that most impresses. There’s painstaking attention to detail from the opening frame. It’s not just settings or characters that call back to the late Gordon’s memorable horror films, but aesthetics, tropes, and everything in between. Lynch brings the ‘90s penchant for soft lighting and saxophone music into the present for his erotic horror thriller and pays tribute to stalwart horror tropes like the sandwich-eating hospital morgue attendant.
Jake Kleinman, Inverse:
With a gruesome decapitation (one that feels like a direct nod to Re-Animator) serving as a starting gun, the movie quickly begins a full sprint through its second and third acts. The demon hops bodies haphazardly, giving multiple cast members a chance to flex their acting muscles (Graham shines, in particular, swigging brandy as the demon discovers the joys of inhabiting a female body). The entire thing climaxes in a frantic and bloody showdown at the hospital where a possessed Elizabeth faces off against her colleague (played by Re-Animator star and Suitable Flesh producer Barbara Crampton) in a showdown that involves a bloody, living corpse, giving Graham the opportunity to wildly wave a gun around while her eyes dance in their sockets.
Isabella Soares, Collider:
Overall, Suitable Flesh doesn’t have to be too spooky or jump-scare-filled to maintain the audience’s attention. Its strength relies on its ensemble, particularly the main trio, and how Lynch can make this Lovecraft adaptation fresh. Even though it pays homage to Gordon’s well-known filmography, it is far from being a carved copy of the late director’s style. The score and editing add to the erotic horror, never crossing the line when it comes to drama. All of these elements work together to maintain the film’s balance and the plot engaging. In short, this is the perfect cinematic venture for those who are fond of chaotic, psychological thrillers that keep you engaged, but that don’t keep you guessing when it all comes to a close.
Suitable Flesh is now writhing in theaters and VOD.