|Something's not quite right in the|
Tell me something
I don't know.
Dir. Richard Bates Jr.
Starring: Matthew Gray Gubler, Kat Dennings, Ray Wise, Barbara Niven, Mel Rodriguez, John Waters, Sally Kirkland, Jeffrey Combs, Mackenzie Phillips, Jennifer Lynch, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Muse Watson
Review By Greg Klymkiw
Suburbia is one of the easiest targets in the world to wrench a few laughs from, but when the aim is true, as it is in the cool, funny and sexy horror comedy Suburban Gothic, then a spirited romp through familiar territory can indeed seem new and decidedly fun again. Helmer Richard Bates Jr. and co-scribe Richard Bruner serve up a wild phantasm of slacker ennui amidst the scares in this tale of the un/under-employed-un-employable mop-haired MBA grad Richard (Matthew Gray Gubler) who's forced by a lack of finances to move in with his horrendously straight-laced parents (Ray Wise, Barbara Niven) in their bungalow ensconced in the dull domain of the leafy, sun-dappled 'burbs.
Richard's got a problem. Well, he has many problems: a nagging, bullying jock Dad, a spin-cycle Mom and that annoying employment (or lack thereof) issue, but the real spanner in the works is that he's got a disturbingly paranormal tendency to connect with the dead.
The family home is undergoing massive landscaping renovations via a sleaze-ball contractor (Mel Rodriguez) whose prolonged topographical desecrations are raising the ire of the dearly departed. Richard seeks solace in the local watering hole where he connects romantically with the goth-chick bartender Becca (Kat Dennings). In no time at all, the anti-establishment couple are making like an amalgam of Shaggy, Freddie, Daphne, Velma and Scooby-Dooby-Doo in order to get to the bottom of the ghostly apparitions and dead bodies terrorizing the town.
The script is chock-full of fun banter, zippy one-liners and spirited (in more ways than one) characters. The terrific cast is more than up to the challenge of spitting out their dialogue with all the requisite screwball skill and helmer Bates Jr. fills his frame with garish 80s colour schemes to allow for splashes of suitably grotesque backdrops for all the verbal jousting. Adding to the mix is a sprightly score and grungy songs, providing added oomph to the whole buoyant affair.
Though the plot races perfunctorily to an expected conclusion during the final third of the running time, we tend to be overly forgiving of this flaw since so much of the movie is just downright diverting. Thankfully, all the aforementioned is played straight by the leads, especially the uber-hilarious Ray Wise. The filmmakers happily cram a month-of-Sundays worth of cool cameos by an all-star assemblage of popular filmmakers (John Waters and the babe-o-licious Soska Sisters) and cult-stars of yesteryear (gotta love Sally Kirkland and Jeffrey Combs) to make the picture a geeky, gosh-golly-gee fanboys' delight.
Let the nocturnal emissions begin.
Suburban Gothic is in town.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars
Suburban Gothic enjoys its Toronto Preniere at the 2o14 edition of Toronto's After Dark Film Festival. For further info, visit the TADFF 2014 website HERE.