Having not heard of Suburban Gothic before, Amberlight Productions was nice enough to send over the Anchor Bay Canada Blu-ray release for review, and I got to say, I’m glad I was able to enjoy this comedic ghost story. Featuring some wonderful performances by Criminal Minds actor Matthew Gray Gubler, loveable Kat Dennings, and Ray Wise, who arguably plays the best character in the movie, the racist, unloving father, Suburban Gothic might be light on the horror elements, but it’s got some quirky humour, a quick pace, and a few tricks up its sleeve to keep you entertained. Read on to see if you agree…
DISCS: 2 (1 Blu-ray, 1 DVD) RUN-TIME: 90 min ASPECT RATIO: 1.78:1 RESOLUTION: 1080p AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1
SUBTITLES: English REGION: A RATING: R PRODUCTION DATE: 2014 RELEASE DATE: Aug 4th, 2015
Suburban Gothic is a supernatural comedy about an unemployed graduate Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler of “Criminal Minds”), who returns to his small-town family home populated by his overbearing mother and ex-jock father, only to encounter a vengeful ghost and a mystery that must be solved before everyone’s lives are lost. The film features an endearingly quirky script with numerous fan favourites in scene-stealing supporting roles, including Kat Dennings (Thor, “2 Broke Girls”), Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks”), Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) and John Waters (director of Pink Flamingos).
No job and no money has forced poor ol’ Raymond (Matthew Gray Gubler) to move back into his parents house. Donald, played by Ray Wise, is a racist, mean father, who clearly doesn’t love his son, as he thinks he dresses weird and is weird. The mother, Eve (the beautiful Barbara Niven,) on the other hand loves him dearly, and may actually love the landscaper Hector (Mel Rodriguez) a little too much as well. It’s a house full of problems, and everything gets worse for Raymond when a small coffin is dug up in the backyard, and his childhood skill of seeing ghosts comes back in full force. With the help from an old high school acquaintance, played by Kat Dennings, Raymond is tasked with helping the ghost that is haunting him, or else his parents house will become a nightmare for anyone who enters it. If you don’t believe me, just ask Donald, who’s penis will take plenty of time to recover, as he didn’t heed the warnings.
Suburban Gothic is most certainly a comedy before it’s a horror movie. It’s got some elements of horror sprinkled throughout, but for the most part, it’s a straight comedy, with plenty of scenes that should make you giggle. Most of the laughs for me came from Ray Wise, who just nails the homophobic, racist, unloving, egotistical, worst father of the year. Every time he popped up on screen, I couldn’t stop laughing. That’s not to say the other performances aren’t as good, as Matthew Gray Gubler does a stand-up job of playing the weird son, who can see the undead. He may dress like a hipster douche bag, but at least he doesn’t try to be someone else. Kat Dennings seems to play the same character she always does, but she’s hot doing it, so I forgive her.
Any negatives are so minimal, they almost aren’t worth mentioning. There are a few hit and miss scenes that for the most part, weren’t really needed. For example, the strange dance off between our two main characters comes completely out of left field. Ray Wise could’ve been used more, as his character is a blast to watch. Plus, the actual backstory for the ghost haunting was a little on the weak side. In the end though, these are all small nitpicks, that seem trivial when you remember the movie also throws in a couple cameos from Jeffery Combs and John Waters. Even though the cameos are short, those two involved are sure to please any comedy / ghost movie fan. I for one had a good time with the movie and I easily recommend it.
Anchor Bay Canada seems to always do two things with their releases lately. The first thing they do, is they do a great job on the video, as Suburban Gothic is looking fantastic, with the colours popping, which is good, cause the movie is a smorgasbord of colours. However, the second thing they seem to be doing is most certainly not acceptable when we are talking Blu-ray. They are releasing their movies with lossy Dolby Digital 5.1. Why Anchor Bay is choosing to use a format that doesn’t make use of the full potential of Blu-ray, we may never know. I’ll perfectly honest with you though, I myself don’t notice a big difference with the sound quality between lossy and lossless, but I don’t have the best equipment to judge it by. I would prefer they used lossless, as it would benefit everyone, but sadly that doesn’t seem like it will be the case for now. With all that said, the audio, even though lossy, is clear, with no noticeable distortion, and plenty of use of the rear channels.
The only feature on the disc is a commentary with Director Richard Bates Jr. (Excision) & Matthew Gray Gubler.
– Commentary with director Richard Bates Jr. & Matthew Gray Gubler
Suburban Gothic pleasantly surprised me. I enjoyed its ghostly humour, and Ray Wise steals the show with his unlikable character. The movie isn’t a full-on horror film, but it’s most definitely one that fans of ghostly tales would get a kick out of. The Blu-ray from Anchor Bay is looking fantastic, and even though the audio isn’t the best it can be, it still sounds great. Throw in a commentary, and you got yourself a disc worth owning. Pick it up today!