Stitch is the debut film from Ajaya Kumar Mathai, who goes simply by the name “Ajai.” It’s like, McG, but harder to pronounce. And boy howdy is his film erupting with ideas and themes, such as grief, forgiveness, and projecting shortcomings onto others. Not all of it connects or makes an emotional impact like I believe the director was shooting for, and I also found that the sheer magnitude of philosophical BS put forth in the film seriously weighs down what could’ve been a decent little thriller. Stitch is like a drunk philosophy major following you around at a party. You could be having a good time, if this guy would only shut up.
Marsden (Edward Furlong) and his wife Serafina (Shawna Waldron) recently lost their young daughter in a car accident. To help cope with their devastating loss, they agree to stay at a deserted healing retreat with their friends Pirino and Colline. Pirino is some kind of spiritual adviser (or trying to be), and he puts Marsden and Serafina through a ritual involving a bonfire and a bull skull. Pirino is the main perpetrator of ranting pseudo-philosophical crapola. I’m not saying philosophy or ideology is a bad thing to have in a film. But when it’s presented in such an aggressive manner, it just comes off silly to me.
Then some kind of apocalyptic electrical storm hits and everything turns into the Netherworld from Beetlejuice. The landscape is all purple and red and if anyone steps outside they’re struck by lightning. Trapped inside the house, paranoia begins to take over as an malevolent force makes itself known through hideous surgical scars that appear spontaneously.
The makeup effects are great, with big, gaping wounds that look ready to burst their stitches at any moment. I guess they’re supposed to be physical manifestations of emotional scars, but your guess is as good as mine. They look cool though.
If being suddenly adorned with hideous scars wasn’t a big enough bummer, some devilish spirit is locked in the house with them – manifesting like black smoke with horns, ruining Marsden’s beauty sleep. It’s a pretty damn cool looking baddie, albeit a bit underused. There’s plenty of creepy moments in the film, particularly towards the end when Ajai leans on a barrage of furious montages to deliver some chills. But much like the philosophical ramblings of Pirino, the scary bits fail to hit their mark as they get lost somewhere in the jumbled mire that is Stitch.
It’s hard not to admire Ajai’s ambition with this film. The problem is that it’s an unfocused effort bogged down by its own self-importance. Stitch boasts a great setting, nice makeup, and menacing spirits, but all of these good elements are overwhelmed by heady banter.