“Stylized” is often a hit or miss term for me in film because it habitually becomes the prime focus of the film itself with only a bare thread of story sewn in. However, The Scribbler manages to get it right while also bringing to life an origin story of a graphic novel that I had previously didn’t know existed.
Suki (Katie Cassidy) has Dissociative Identity Disorder and is sent to live in a sort of high rise half way house for the “recovering” mentally ill. I use “recovering” lightly here considering most of the patients have seemingly been throwing themselves off the top of the high rise. Suki arrives and meets a variety of interesting characters including a pseudo-gypsy named Cleo (Gina Gershon), Emily (Ashlynn Yennie) who has a crippling fear of wearing clothes, Hogan (Garret Dillahunt) who happens to be the only male in the high rise, and Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg) who makes it almost impossible to use the stairs.
With a great cast of characters, The Scribbler keeps an ongoing entertaining narrative without ever really getting caught up in its visual style. While I was watching I couldn’t help but compare it to Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch which failed unendingly in narrative. Each character has their own personality and quirk that differentiates them from the others. No one is completely crazy but in a way they are far more in touch with themselves than “the mundanes” as Hogan refers to regular people.
Upon some research I realized director, John Suits, also wrote the film Static which I happened upon about a month ago. Had I known that going in I would have realized that I was getting into a relatively original story, as original as an adaptation can be anyway. Suits has a clear voice and he seeks out projects that give a slightly different spin on traditional story telling. His talent is not only backed up here but he proves himself as a decent director who can give over the writing work to others.
As an origin story goes The Scribbler is up there with the best of them though while some become too bloated-Captain America– this comes in at a lean 88 minutes and doesn’t waste a single one. Suki is being treated to get rid of her “alters” with an experimental machine called “The Siamese Burn” (which does exactly what it says), a souped up version of electroshock therapy that is meant to burn out the other personalities. Instead it seems to be making them stronger and Suki is unable to decide which personality is really her or if she is actually all of them.
Katie Cassidy does an excellent job of portraying the confused and ever cynical Suki, whether she is stone cold serious or sarcastically hilarious I never found myself getting annoyed with her. I’ll also give her some major credit for being a character that has virtually no love angle. She has Hogan but he is her friend, someone who understands her. Of course, I haven’t read the graphic novels so I can’t speak for her future love life but it was nice to see it more or less dispensed with here.
A movie that can’t be understood unless you have read the book is fundamentally flawed as a movie, but a movie that makes you want to read the book is an overwhelming success. It’s a damn shame that The Scribbler, which is a part of the extremely popular Superhero phase that’s currently happening, was not given a wider release. It’s a great story and extremely fun to watch, I only hope Suits comes back for more because I would love to see where he can take it. The Scribbler is a great example of how you don’t need a few million dollars to make an entertaining superhero movie. Oh, and if any of the female readers are into cosplay I would recommend going as The Scribbler next con.