The effects aren’t much and the story is something of a confused psycho-muddle.
But the graphic novel adaptation “The Scribbler” travels to the screen in healthy doses of R-rated grit, gore and hedonistic sex. It’s about madness and sanity and the ways only the truly mad can grapple with the difference.
Suki, played by Katie Cassidy of TV’s “Arrow,” is the narrator/heroine, a bruised and bloodied beauty who “can’t talk without a pen.” Suki is new to “The Suicide Suites,” a strangely unmonitored halfway house for the supposedly “cured” insane, people working their way back into society. No sooner is she there than the suites start living up to their name.
We recover the stories of who has died, and how, in an interrogation. The cop (Michael Imperioli) thinks she’s responsible. The shrink (Eliza Dushku) isn’t sure.
And Suki’s tale points her ink-stained fingers — she writes everything backwards, by the way — at others in the “Suites.” There’s the promiscuous sex addict in a candy store (Garret Dillahunt) who sleeps with pretty much every resident of this run-down hi-rise. We also meet snake-loving Miss Cleo (Gina Gershon), psychotic Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg) and loony “Bunny” (Sasha Grey) who wears Bunny ears all the time to earn that nickname.
“You might as well jump,” Bunny purrs, “everybody does.”
Suki tells her story, about “the REAL crazy — anxiety and vomit.” And we learn about the doctor (Billy Campbell) whose experimental electro-shock treatment may be “curing” them all, or at least burning off the unpleasant aspects of their respective personalities.
Suki has plenty of those — alternate personalities, “alters” for short. One of those is “The Scribbler,” the compulsive backwards-writer who may be the most dangerous of her “alters.”
But others sense Suki’s real fear, being “cured.”
“You’re worried about becoming ordinary, aren’t you?”
Director John Suits stages a sex scene that fully feels like crazy people having at it — uninhibited, abandoned, urgent, as if they’re afraid they’ll lose the sane parts of their psyche that allow them to enjoy it. Then there’s Ashlynn Yennie, who drew the short straw among this cast, playing Emily, “pathologically afraid of clothing” with all the cheap exploitation you’d expect from that.
The “Siamese Burn” treatment, occasionally self-administered, produces a cheesy alien eyes effect. And they can’t find enough funny stuff to do with the English bulldog Suki hears talking to her in a Cockney accent.
But “Scribbler” is just daring and interesting enough that you can see why a fairly accomplished cast — from Cassidy to Dushku, Gershon to Campbell — was drawn to it, even if the execution underwhelms.
MPAA Rating: R for violent images, some strong sexuality/nudity, and language
Cast: Katie Cassidy, Billy Campbell, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon
Credits: Directed by John Suits, written by Dan Schaffer, based on his graphic novel. An XLRator Media release.
Running time: 1:28