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TAD 2014 Review: Suburban Gothic

In what is sure to be one of the weirdest entries in this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, Matthew Gray Gubler stars as Raymond, an eccentric intellectual that has a serious issue relating to others and may just be able to see ghosts in Suburban Gothic. After failing to hold down a steady job, Raymond reluctantly moves back into the family home with his parents, where immediately things feel off. With the help of feisty bartender Becca (Kat Dennings) who has taken a liking to him, Raymond sets out to find what has been happening around the family estate, much to the dismay of his overbearing father (the brilliant Ray Wise).

Viewers only familiar with the Gubler they see on Criminal Minds may be surprised to find out just how weird he really can be and his fascination with the macabre serves him well here. He’s good as the lead, but the film really works when he is paired with the almost always adorable Dennings and the veteran savvy of Ray Wise. Without Wise and Dennings, Suburban Gothic could have slid into mediocrity real fast as the pacing is uneven and goes stretches without a single laugh. Some of the effects work involved also seems to have come from the late 80’s/early 90’s, and while the director may have intended for them to have a throwback feel, they just feel out of place here.

A decent film that could have been better served with a tighter script and more laughs, Suburban Gothic survives on the strengths of its leads, and another stellar turn from Ray Wise. And in the end, its those performances that propel the film enough for a minor recommendation.

[star v=3]