“Suburban Gothic” is the new movie by Richard Bates Jr., wo made the awesome, distburbing “Excision” a couple of years ago. I’m only mentioning this so that I can tell you to immediately forget it again. Seriously… get “Excision” out of your head before watching “Suburban Gothic”. Not just because his follow-up doesn’t play in the same league quality-wise, it’s also a completely different movie. While “Excision” had some (albeit dark) humor in it, it mostly was a gloomy and unsettling affair. This is much more leight-weighted, and overall, mostly a comedy with some horror elements, instead of the other way around. So if you go into this expecting another “Excision”, you’ll end up disappointed.
Which is not to say that there’s nothing to enjoy in his latest offering. My favorite part of the movie was its lead character. He’s a little bit of a wimp, very sensitive, and soooo not manly/macho at all… in other words: Not your typical movie hero. I loved that, especially since despite this, he doesn’t come across as a dork, and he still manages to save the day in the end. That was very refreshing. I also enjoyed most of the humor. There are some very funny scene, f.e. when he meets a girl that he has only seen online before (to say more would spoil the surprise). The cast is good (with a special mention to the always great Kat Dennings), and despite all the humor, there are a couple of scenes where Bates really amps up the tension.
By far the weakest link of the movie is it’s story, which is a mash-up of your regular ghost movie tropes, and feels very familiar. Also, apart from stand-out Raymond, the rest of the characters are rather bland and clichéd; especially his father. I know that there are many dads like that, but I don’t have to be reminded of that in every second movie. I also wasn’t too fond of the very digital look of the movie. Also, it was very stilized, with heightened colors, which may have been nice for a couple of minutes, but got tired rather quickly. Finally, some of the CGI – f.e. the toenails – was really bad. Overall, it’s a funny and charming movie, but nothing special, and a far cry from his socks off-knocking debut feature.