I’m Scribbling as Fast as I Can: Suits Unsuited for Comic Book Adaptation
Within minutes of its meager running time, which opens with a disorienting barrage of monotonous narration, John Suits’ The Scribbler makes good on the asinine promise of its silly title. Starting out as producer, Suits has a trio of other direct-to-DVD quality horror titles under his belt, this time adapting a celebrated graphic novel by Dan Schaffer with a handful of notable names in the cast that would indicate some semblance of worthwhile quality, but alas, there’s nary of whiff of enjoyable screen time in this tonally awkward, amateurish handling concerning a disorder that’s been long out of pulp fiction fashion for several decades.
Suki (Katie Cassidy) suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder and has checked into a halfway house for troubled individuals. Her physician (Billy Campbell) has prescribed a controversial treatment known as “The Siamese Burn,” where Suki attaches herself to an electrode like machine when she’s ready to unload a personality. Pushing a button, she zaps the hell out of herself, and, presto! One less alternate to worry about. The only trouble is, as Suki treats herself with the Burn, each session results in the suicide of another young woman in the building. As she’s quizzed by the police (Michael Imperioli) and a therapist (Eliza Dushku) about her possible role in their deaths, Suki is convinced that it’s another woman wandering the halls that has been killing the women. Or is it that malignant alternate of Suki’s that everyone calls The Scribbler that’s responsible?
Like a J-horror rendition of Sybil, Suits’ The Scribbler rather methodically falls into the formula suited to tales concerning the eradication of multiple personalities, more correctly known as dissociative identity disorder, as each ‘dies’ each time Suki self-administers her treatment called “The Siamese Burn,” which resembles a sort of self-inflicted shock therapy.
Set within the confines of a dilapidated structure where inhabitants of a grungy halfway house are allowed to ascend to the upper levels based on their noted improvements with whatever disorder they suffer from, Schafner’s world feels like dystopic Goth, and perhaps a more appropriate soundtrack would’ve enhanced the pronounced design of the film, which instead looks rather cheap. Sickly greens and metallic blues lend the film a putrid aura that never abates, not even in a highly stylized sex scene between Cassidy and the resident ‘rooster’ played by over-the-top Garret Dillahunt. But at least Dillahunt’s exaggerated performance elicits a response from the audience with his ridiculousness, as everyone else feels DOA, even the continued stunt casting of adult film star Sasha Grey in a throwaway role fails to resonate.
“Everyone in the world suffers from multiple personalities,” he proclaims, explaining that we’re all trapped in our own deviant personas that society requires us to appropriate as necessary. Interesting hypothesis, but lodged as it is in this silly shenanigan, it only results in a ludicrous moment of pity for Dillahunt, as well as other players like Gina Gershon and Michael Imperioli, incredible actors with much greater talent than this material requires. As for lead Katie Cassidy, it’s unclear whether she’s trying to avoid any type of screen presence on purpose, but she’s an utterly underwhelming bore as the troubled young woman at the heart of the narrative.
You’ll barely recognize Michelle Trachtenberg as the arch nemesis, Alice, and then that familiar face playing Suki’s inquisitor is indeed Eliza Dushku. But don’t let this intriguing array of names fool you, The Scribbler is a D-grade extravaganza of unpleasantness.