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A heroine suffering from personality disorder, with one of her identities being able to communicate only by writing backwards. A halfway house for people recovering from mental illness that has an unfortunately high suicide rate. A comely young woman who’s pathologically averse to wearing clothing. An English bulldog who talks in a Cockney accent. And porn star Sasha Grey as a bunny ears-wearing character named, what else, “Bunny.”
These are just a few of the endless gonzo elements of The Scribbler, John Suits’ film version of the popular graphic novel by Dan Schaffer, who adapted it for the screen. With its cast featuring such familiar faces as Garret Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dishku, Michael Imperioli, Billy Campbell and Gina Gershon, it makes one imagine how much fun the table reads must have been.
Katie Cassidy (TV’s Arrow) plays the lead role of Suki, who thanks to her mental disorder finds herself living in Juniper Towers, sardonically referred to as the “Suicide Suites.” Among the other residents are Alice (Trachtenberg), a Goth chick who goes around asking “Have you seen my dog?”; Cleo (Gershon), who resembles Theda Bara and constantly has a large snake around her neck; and the sole male resident, Hogan (Dillahunt), who’s slept with all of the women, including Suki.
“I’m performing a service,” he explains.
The propensity of the female residents to leap to their deaths has attracted the attention of a tough-talking detective (Imperioli) and a shrink (Dushku), whose interrogation of Suki frames the convoluted storyline. She, meanwhile, is undergoing a series of treatments dubbed “The Siamese Burn” designed to eliminate her “alters” prescribed by her shady doctor (Campbell).
Clearly straining for cult status, the film at least has the courage of its convictions, presenting its bizarre universe with striking visual and aural effects and welcome doses of off-the-wall humor (not all of which lands). Director Suits infuses the atmospheric proceedings with an endless variety of graphic novel-inspired stylized approaches, with one highlight being a go for broke sex scene between Cassidy and Dillahunt that looks like an outtake from Zack Snyder’s 300.
Although ultimately far too muddled in its concept and execution to be anything more than a curiosity, The Scribbler does manage the dubious feat of being one of the strangest films you’re likely to see this year.
Production: New Artists Alliance, Caliber Media Company, NightSky Productions
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Garret Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Michael Imperioli, Billy Campbell, Gina Gershon, Sasha Grey
Director: John Suits
Screenwriter: Dan Schaffer
Producers: Gabriel Cowan, Ken F. Levin
Executive producers: Kerry Johnson, David E. Groom, Dallas Sonnier, Jack Heller
Director of photography: Mark Putnam
Editor: Mark Lowrie
Production designer: Kathrin Eder
Costume designer: Anthony Tran
Composer: Alec Puro
Casting director: Sarah Suits
Rated R, 88 min.
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