Suburban Gothic; or A Parade of Cravats

Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Laugh-it-off Monday, where we start the week with a smile! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, neither of which are an Aries, so they aren’t assholes.

Today’s Film Offering: Suburban Gothic

This was one of the funnier jokes made.
This was one of the funnier jokes made.

Lilly: As if moving back in with your parents wasn’t enough of a nightmare, Suburban Gothic is the tale of a young man who is too much for his suburb-dwelling parents, and his struggle with not only coming back to a place he never thought he’d have to return to but also the paranormal. A fun premise for all of those people facing the same issues–well, minus all the ghosts.

I’m going to be honest here, I wanted to see this film because I like the actor Matthew Grey Gubler from his role on Criminal Minds and I heard John Waters was going to be in it. And I got exactly what I deserved for going into a film for those two purposes. Very little.

Andy: Trouble is, that literally everybody in this film is utterly hateable. The jokes are horrible, the humour is about two decades out of date (ooo, mexican workers in the yard, how original!) and the plot is utterly asinine.

Trouble is, I think it was going for a sort of hip Scream-like pastiche of horror tropes, except Scream knew exactly what it was doing, and was actually, yknow, witty. Plus, while ironic detachment may work to hide some of the film’s many, many sins, it doesn’t excuse using constant homophobic, racist and ableist slurs – these aren’t even offensive, they’re just dumb and lazy.

Lilly: It was just sort of lazy writing to make sure we didn’t like certain characters. Ah yes, don’t like Racist Dad, check. Right, those are bullies since they are being homophobic. Right, Racist Dad is also Ableist Dad, so there’s that. Oh, and both parents are homophobic, so that’s…okay, wait, now Kat Dennings is calling MGG a lady, which is apparently an insult. So am…wait. Do I like her or hate her? Ugh. And why do we keep hearing about how fat he was? I get it. He was fat. That must have been hard. He’s skinny now, so there’s that to be happy about. Because being fat was hard. I. Get. It.

Andy: It’s pretty much the poster boy for Trying Too Hard. It provides an interesting contrast with Housebound, which we watched yesterday. In that, the people felt like real people, and importantly, the movie didn’t take sides in an intergenerational conflict – both sides were humanised. Here, the characters are stock and poorly written stock at that. Our ‘hero’ is made more unlikeable by the fact that we sense we’re being forced to be on his side. 

Lilly: I had such high hopes that Becca (Kat Dennings) would keep up her hatred for Raymond (Matthew Grey Gubler) actually, because she was relatable when she disliked him.

Andy: Because he’s an absolute douchecanoe with no redeeming qualities.

Lilly: Which is frustrating, since Becca had some interesting moments in the film. The first time I actually took a moment to appreciate her characterization was when she used the line “I’m on my period” to avoid sex in a non-confrontational way to then correct this behaviour with the words “I’m not, I just really don’t want to have sex right now”. A female character taking that sort of ownership of her own sexuality is sort of refreshing. Then there was the line “I better not be pregnant again” which sort of tipped her into the heavy-handed anti-stereotype ‘I am not just a WOMB’ character that is actually pretty common in modern comedies–comedies, because it’s laughable, right? Right? That’s another rant in itself.

Andy: I cannot say this loudly or often enough: Good Characters = Good Horror. This is terrible horror.

Lilly: Not to mention the fact that Raymond ends up teaching at the school, which makes no sense–does he have a teaching degree? Is he allowed around children? I hate the trope of ‘anyone can teach’ you get in films. Hate it.

That said, the scary bits? Were actually pretty scary. When the film wasn’t trying to be too cool for the tropes it was falling into, there were terrifying ghosts, creepy seance scenes, and weird hauntings that grossed you out. They were insane, and sudden, and if the rest of the film was enjoyable, they would have really amped it up.

Andy: It may surprise you to learn this, but we occasionally take notes when we watch these films, especially if they’re new to us. On the final page I did for this one, I wrote “Where the f*** is the narrative arc? The conflict? It’s slacker millennial bullshit of the highest order.”

Pretty much. It’s not funny, it’s not original and it’s not scary. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Lilly: Sorry, MGG, but agreed. It’s just so much nonsense, not fitting of the time it was made in, with a weird plot that doesn’t entirely make sense with irrelevant shenanigans that are time wasters, not plot builders. Ugh. Not a recommendation.

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