Director: James Roday
Writers: James Roday, Todd Harthan
Let me introduce to you Gravy. No, not the delicious substance that we drench our mashed potatoes in -- Gravy the film. This movie stars Michael Weston, Jimmi Simpson, Sutton Foster, Lilly Cole, Molly Ephraim, Paul Rodriguez, Lothaire Bluteau, our precious (heh heh) Gabourey Sidibe, Gabriel Luna, Ethan Sandler, Stefanie E. Frame and Kate Rogal, with guest appearances from our favourite potty-mouth princess Sarah Silverman and the director of the film James Roday. Dulé Hill also makes a very minor appearance.
Gravy takes place on Halloween in a Mexican pub, on bartender Kerry’s (Sutton Foster) last day at work before leaving to become a paramedic. However, little did the staff know that they’ve been pre-chosen by sadistic ‘customers’ Stef (Jimmi Simpson), Anson (Michael Weston), and Mimi (Lilly Cole) to take part in a gory tradition. It seems that every Halloween they pick a place to trap their victims and force them to play all sorts of morbid games, with the end result of killing and eating them.
I do tend to like horror comedies or horror films that just don’t take themselves seriously at all, but I found this movie to be a bit too silly. The sound effects were too comical and cartoony at times, and the (what I assume is supposed to be) comedic relief character Bert (Ethan Sandler) didn’t really provide any additional comedy or relief -- with how silly this movie already is, he was unnecessary and served no purpose. He was just Mimi’s very own punching bag and torture toy. Some creative decisions and special effects (such as a thought bubble showing what's going on in Bert’s head) I found to be too much. There's one gimmick the filmmakers tried to play off of that I think did not work in spectacular fashion: they tried to make you forget about a character just to bring him back later in the movie, where they lampshade and joke that they had forgotten all about him. They did not execute this very well at all in my opinion, as prior to this scene they focus on him unnecessarily, which I found makes him very prominent in your short-term memory. He was also brought back way too early -- the viewers aren’t even given enough time to properly forget about him.
I also had a problem with Anson; Michael Weston’s character. It seemed like they had wanted Charlie Day but had spent all their budget on Sarah Silverman so they settled for what they could get. Weston played Anson as a nasal and unintelligent clown. In fact, it felt like set out for a archetypal group dynamic for the killers, where Stef is the stereotypical evil mastermind, Mimi is the psychotic self-destructing time bomb, and Anson would be the unpredictable bumbling jester (see: the hyenas from Lion King.) My problem with this also the inconsistency -- where from the very beginning when Anson meets Bethany (Sarah Silverman) he is painfully awkward and how he is portrayed through most of the film, but at times is the only logical one recognizing that Mimi could be a big batsh*t problem. I did like that they did develop Anson as a character (ever-so-slightly) and at times, make you root for him. He may be a villain, but he's the disenfranchised underdog of the villains that just makes you want to whisper ‘You go, Anson!’
The silliness did work in this movie’s favour a few times times, though. There is instances of typically dark scenes (fighting, eating elegantly-prepared cannibal dishes, et cetera) that they would have set to lighthearted music. In this scenes, I feel the juxtaposition of the lighthearted tone with the dark graphic visual material did seem to blend nicely. While still goofy, these scenes did not seem to get carried away by themselves.
As for practical effects, I found this movie did do quite well, and they disturbingly did manage to make the ‘food‘ look very appetizing (even though it never failed to make my stomach turn at every bite.) I also feel that this film really made messed-up scenarios when you put it into perspective, such as forcing the chef to prepare all his dead friends and co-workers. I liked the idea of this tradition being a game to the killers, but I feel the movie dropped that subplot too quickly and that they should have played with the idea a bit more.
All in all, this movie could use some extra seasoning, and I give it 3 medium-rare Gabourey Sidibe legs out of 10.