The Scribbler Movie Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Blu-ray released by XLrator
Directed by John Suits
Written by Dan Schaffer
2014, 88 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on October 21st, 2014
Katie Cassidy as Suki
Garret Dillahunt as Hogan
Michelle Trachtenberg as Alice
As Suki tries to reconcile her multiple personalities, she's thrust into a group home with other patients who may not be who they appear to be. Meanwhile, one of her personalities (known as the scribbler) keeps leaving her cryptic messages and pushing her into more and more dangerous therapies.
The major problem with John Suits's The Scribbler is that it tries way too hard to be other films. It has a singular person trying to erase multiple personalities through extreme measures (think Identity). It tries to do the whole secret-experiments-make-for-hyper-powered-humans-because-of-reasons thing (since it's based on a comic, I'd almost give that aspect a pass, if it were good at it). It does the mysterious and troubled tenants of a building dying one by one and yet nobody leaves or calls the cops thing. It's a horror-lite, mystery, whodunit, psychedelic, psychodrama with a twist. However, the plot is weak, the twist is obvious, the production values are lax, and the acting is wooden and forced. That last bit is most troubling, because it's stuffed with actors who have all done far better work but have wince inducing moments here.
Katie Cassidy's Suki is far from a sympathetic character. That's a problem because she's supposed to be the heroine of this tale and we're supposed to want to cheer for her, but she has so little character development or growth that she becomes grating. You start rooting for the bad guys, who have as much depth as a turtle-shaped kiddie pool. I will, however, give her kudos for going all in on changing her look. On Arrow, she's a long-haired, very attractive woman. Here, she's nearly unrecognizable, with short hair and a pasty, haggard look that shows a commitment to the role. That commitment doesn't quite translate as well as it should, lost in a muddled tale. The plot is paper thin and does all but point neon lights at the very obvious ending. I can't explain why shock therapy would remove multiple personalities and create meta-humans and neither can the film. It wants the viewer to blindly accept these things in fact without giving us a toehold to cling to and allow for the suspension of disbelief to set in.
It feels really chopped up and slapped together. I don't know if that's purposefully done to heighten the surrealistic vibe or just a result of multiple edits. The movie doesn't feel cohesive and never really meshes. I honestly feel there may have been a good movie here, but it feels like Director John Suits either doesn't get the comic vibe or purposefully steered away from it to the detriment of storytelling. From the little I've read of the comic the film is based on, the look is right, but the tone feels off, which is stranger because the same guy wrote both. Regardless, The Scribbler feels like a lost opportunity. Not a terrible effort, not worthy of rage or indignant reprobation, but not a good one either. It falls flat and is just another destined-for-Netflix-obscurity entrant.