Horror Comedy Suburban Gothic Haunts Blu-Ray

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Richard Bates, Jr. is a director to watch. His first feature, Excision, brought a new level of disturbing to the body horror subgenre through a twisted tale of a teen obsessed with blood and surgical procedures. Suburban Gothic, his latest, is a delightful yet unsentimental homage to vintage Tim Burton that absolutely deserves cult classic status.

Suburban Gothic is a horror comedy that’s light on scares but heavy on laughs. The movie follows hipster misfit and MBA graduate Raymond, played by Matthew Grey Gubler, and his ignominious return to his small town home after a stint of joblessness has left him penniless. Those who are overeducated and underemployed will cringe in sympathy with his predicament.

Woefully out of sync with his overbearing but well-meaning mother (Barbara Niven) and brash, right-wing jock father (the brilliant Ray Wise), and bullied by the same folks who beat him up in high school, Raymond seeks solace in a local bar, where he meets snarky punk rock queen Becca, the perfectly cast Kat Dennings. Becca remarks on Raymond’s X-Files tattoo and suggests a career in the paranormal arts, and before you can say, “I see dead people,” ghosts start showing up, thus shoving the pair into a good, old-fashioned Gothic mystery.

Suburban Gothic is never cutesy, however, being liberally peppered with piercing, pointed critiques of suburban life and annoying parents. King of Bad Taste John Waters makes an appearance, an indication that the film is closer to the spirit of that director’s cinematic oeuvre than Disney’s The Haunted Mansion. Still, for a low budget movie, the effects in Suburban Gothic are impressive and fit perfectly with the tone of the film.

Savvy viewers will probably see at least one of Suburban Gothic‘s narrative threads coming before it eventually arrives, but the movie still manages to subvert the “happy ending” trope in a particularly pleasing fashion. Best of all, it has an absolutely spooktacular soundtrack.

Suburban Gothic is out on Blu-ray today in Canada from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada and Raven Banner and can be purchased through Amazon.ca. The disc includes a commentary track with Richard Bates, Jr. and Matthew Gray Gubler.

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