Toronto After Dark 2023 Wrap-Up | Suitable Flesh Review

by Andrew Parker

Director Joe Lynch delivers a love letter to both late genre icon Stuart Gordon and writer H.P. Lovecraft with his frantically paced and wildly amusing genre romp Suitable Flesh, which screened as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival last month.

Based in part on the story The Thing on the Doorstep (adapted for the screen by writer Dennis Paoli, who collaborated with Gordon on many of his Lovecraft adaptations), Suitable Flesh follows a respected psychiatrist (Heather Graham) who has her life violently (and hilariously) upended by the arrival of a mysterious new patient, a young man (Judah Lewis) claiming to hear voices. It quickly becomes apparent that this man is not a run of the mill paranoid schizophrenic, and his violent, darker tendencies start to rub off on the doctor, building to an almost full on mental break for the both of them.

It’s obvious that I’m keeping large parts of Suitable Flesh deliberately vague, but a huge part of the fun when watching this comes from wondering just how quickly things are going to escalate and what gory, goopy, demonic, and horny directions they will go in next. Lynch (Mayhem, Everly, Point Blank) goes full on gonzo, implementing a perfectly campy melodramatic tone that lets savvy viewers in on the joke. It’s a niche joke, to be fair, but anyone with a love for Gordon’s work or silly horror movies that don’t take themselves too seriously will be able to track what Lynch is going for immediately.

And the cast definitely got the memo. Graham is a delight. Lewis gives off appropriate Jeffrey Combs vibes. Genre veteran Barbara Crampton has a strong showing as the doctor’s concerned colleague, a role that only gets more interesting the longer the story progresses. And Jonathon Schaech pretty much steals the show as Graham’s hilariously doofus husband.

This is precisely the kind of film I would’ve rented on a whim from the video store in 1994 and eaten up. That’s a high compliment.

Suitable Flesh screened as part of the 2023 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. It is now playing in select US cities. It is scheduled to stream on Shudder sometime in early 2024. 

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