Richard Bates, Jr. returns to Fantasia this year with Suburban Gothic. I must say this movie will benefit greatly of a participative audience like the one in Fantasia. It’s not by any means a primetime blockbuster, but it is what it is. The experience with a Fantasia audience was great. It was funny, it was quirky and it was entertaining to discover.
Matthew Gray Gubler works a mean monologue in this movie, if you’re able to follow it. As the main character Raymond, he talks a lot less by comparison when he’s interacting with the rest of the cast than when he’s just thinking out loud. He does grant more strength to his words as he does evolve into a more confident, albeit no less awkward personality. Kat Dennings is the bad ass bartender Becca, armed with a crowbar and a lot of un-pc commentary to share. Ray Wise is the perfect asshole of a father who wants to have his son committed. Raymond seems to have a special connection with the spirit world, and once he starts wearing an ascot you can guess which Saturday morning cartoon is being payed a homage here.
Of course eventually it’s up to Raymond and Becca to save the day, and although you can follow the plot almost in paint by numbers fashion, the resolution is actually satisfying. The epilogue is a bit of an afterthought but the soundtrack really makes up for it. This is not a movie you rent without likely minding individuals.
The horror works in two levels, the anticipation and the discovery. I found myself not initially thrilled with the anticipation. Traveling black smoke is a bit of a crutch to direct you where to expect the scare to come from, and I found it unnecessary. The thrills came off far better when they just appear. The discovery, with disembodied heads and faces floating in the dark does bring a chill or two which actually readies the audience to expect more from where that came from.
Recommended to watch in a theatre as part of an irreverent movie festival. I don’t expect it to win any hearts with the critics, but it’s got enough heart inside an intimate setting when you get to meet the director and the stars of the film ready to share some laughs, pranks and a ghost story or two.
That will do for now.
- July 23: The Huntresses (South Korea)
- July 24: Predestination (Australia)
- July 25: The Infinite Man (Australia)
- July 27: The Midnight Swim (USA)
- July 28: Premature (USA)
- July 31: When Animals Dream (Denmark)
- August 2: Time Lapse (USA)
- August 5: Space Station 76 (USA)