John Suits’ The Scribbler, adapted from the celebrated graphic novel by Dan Schaffer, is a strange entry into the Frightfest schedule. It’s not really a horror film, more of a sci-fi thriller that engages with some abstract horror ideas. The film follows the story of Suki (Katie Cassidy) a troubled girl suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder who has just moved into a halfway house for troubled women. As Suki uses an experimental device to eliminate her surplus personalities, the machine changes, allowing one of her most volatile side’s near-complete control over Suki’s life.
The Scribbler is unfortunately a film that is obviously based on a graphic novel. Creative tensions lie in the bizarre fusion of themes and aesthetics which attempt to bring the story into the real world but unfortunately maroon this, otherwise enjoyable, affair, in a weirdly inaccessible and childish world. Imagine a Terry Gilliam film crossed with manga action, wrapped in the muggy aesthetic of Se7en with a fairly undeveloped scatter-brained narrative.
In the beginning the story appears quite tight: the haunted world of the halfway house is a unique and madcap place for horror ideals to slip and slide between scenes, the performances of the varied and frankly fantastic cast (not least Michelle Trachtenberg, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon) are never the issue, instead a story line reminiscent of ADHD throws so many ideas into the mix that its impossible to keep every saucer spinning. By the end, the film has achieved a kind of sterile action quality so flat that we have well and truly lost the plot. This last 20 minutes most adequately encompasses the weird mix of graphic novel and cinema, usually found in manga adaptation, because it seems to come from nowhere. A melodramatic, magic-tinged showdown between convoluted characters is enough for a sore head and leaves the film in a messy state of affairs.
Unfortunately The Scribbler proves too inconsistent to rave about, but there are plenty of good points in a feature which may have worked better as a series. Enjoyable performances, unique cinematography and set-design, along with a zany sense of humour keep this feature together but never allow it the strength to kick-off as anything recommendable.
Stars:Katie Cassidy, Garret Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg, Michael Imperioli, Eliza Dushku, Gina Gershon