Loosely based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep, Shudder film, Suitable Flesh is a humorous adult horror with B-grade aesthetics. Daniella Upton, a psychiatrist, visits her friend and colleague, Elizabeth Derby, who was kept locked up in the psychiatric ward. Derby showed symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, but she begged her friend to believe that she was not sick. Elizabeth was panic-stricken because she was scared of an evil spirit taking possession of her body. She wanted to make sure that the spirit was destroyed, but to do so, she needed to convince Daniella that it was not a psychological problem she was dealing with but something truly sinister.
Who was Asa?
Elizabeth had a perfect life before she met a young man named Asa Waite. It was another usual day at Beth’s clinic when Asa arrived at her door, begging for help. He was visibly tense and was afraid of an unknown force taking control of his body. He claimed to be a student at Miskatonic University, and he was certain that he had experienced an out-of-body phenomenon. Beth had authored a book on out-of-body experiences, and Asa believed she was the only one who could help him deal with his current situation. Elizabeth was certain that it was another case of schizophrenia, but Asa did not think he was suffering from a mental illness. A spirit had taken possession of his body, and he was afraid that it would do so again. He was hysterical when he noticed his father calling him on his cell phone. Asa hesitantly received the call, and when he did, his father spoke in a foreign language, and that triggered something within Asa. He experienced a seizure, and when he woke up, he seemed like a whole new person. He was extremely confident and seemed to be an old man trapped in a young body. While Asa’s theory explained the phenomenon, as a psychiatrist, Elizabeth was not ready to believe in possession, and she concluded that Asa suffered from multiple personality disorders.
For the first time, Elizabeth could not keep her mind off a case. She caught herself trying to find the right explanation for Asa’s behavior. She was also sexually aroused thinking about the young man, and it became almost impossible to keep her mind off Asa. Even though home visits were off the charts, Elizabeth, for the first time, chose to visit Asa at his home. She was too intrigued to not find out what was going on. Upon entering the dimly lit house with newspapers covering every possible light source, she found Asa’s father seated behind a desk with his eyes closed. He suffered from a heart condition and needed his medication. Elizabeth helped him, and when he came to his senses, he sounded just like Asa after he suffered from a seizure. The spirit spoke about how everybody was dispensable except for him. With the old man’s body degrading, the spirit was in search of another host, and Asa seemed to fit his criteria.
Did Asa die?
Beth received a call from Asa in the middle of the night, and she immediately left for 33 High Street. Beth found Asa’s father lying on the floor, and she instinctively dialed the emergency number. Asa stopped her because he wanted his father to die and, along with him, the spirit that resided in his body. Beth could not make sense of anything that Asa said, and she panicked when she saw him with a knife, wanting to decapitate his father. Beth declared that the old man had already passed away after she checked his pulse. But that was not enough for Asa to believe that the spirit was gone. He knew that to completely destroy the spirit, he had to cut out his father’s head, and he begged for Elizabeth’s help.
The spirit takes possession twice before settling in a body the third time, and with two chances gone, Asa was aware that time was running out. He attempted to attack his father with a knife, but the old man resisted. Elizabeth was shocked to see the old man wake up after he was completely unresponsive. The old man choked Asa and chanted a spell that resulted in Asa experiencing another seizure. Asa turned into a confident man, just like Beth had witnessed the first time. While Beth tried to explain his condition, Asa responded in a cocky fashion. He seduced Beth, and even though it was a breach of the patient-doctor relationship, Beth could not resist. With the body of the old man lying on the floor, Beth and Asa indulged in a moment of passion. Both Beth and Asa experienced seizures, and for the first time, Beth had an out-of-body experience. For a few minutes, she believed she was in Asa’s body while he was in hers. After another seizure, she was back in her own body. While Beth tried to make sense of the entire situation, the spirit in Asa’s body realized that the old man (Asa) was gone. Asa, in the form of the old man, begged Beth to help him, but she was completely clueless. The evil spirit, in the form of Asa, stabbed the old man in the neck and decapitated him. Beth was terrified, and she ran for her life. With the head removed from the old man’s body, it is safe to assume that Asa died that night. The next morning, police visited Beth’s place to return her phone, which she left at Asa’s house. The house had caught fire, and firefighters had arrived at the scene. Beth was surprised when she was told by the police that, according to Asa’s account, his father had left the house a few days ago and had not returned. Clearly, the evil spirit dealt with the body before the firefighters arrived.
How was Elizabeth’s life affected?
Elizabeth’s life was in shambles when she confessed to her husband about sleeping with Asa. After spending some time apart, Elizabeth decided to get her life back, and she hoped to reconcile with Edward. While getting ready to welcome Edward, Beth received a call from Asa (the evil spirit). She was behaving exactly like Asa did the first time he met her at her clinic. After she received the call, Asa chanted the spells, and the evil spirit was transferred to her body, and her spirit went into Asa’s body. The wicked spirit took over Beth’s body, and it was also hunting for new bodies to use in the future. It handcuffed Asa to keep Beth’s soul trapped while it took over her life.
Edward was a little surprised to see Beth’s bold side, but he played along. Meanwhile, Beth, trapped in Asa’s body, called her best friend for help. She directed her to the basement, where she was locked up. Beth also noticed a dead octopus kept along with the image of a demon octopus in the room (perhaps for black magic), and she was convinced that some sort of ritual had taken place. When Dani arrived, she begged her to save her husband, but Dani had a tough time believing that the young man in front of her was Elizabeth. Elizabeth called the police and reported a case of domestic abuse, but when the police entered, they did not notice anything worth an alert. Of course, Elizabeth’s behavior had radically changed. During the police interrogation, the evil spirit returned to Asa’s body, and Elizabeth once again returned to her own body. The phenomenon was impossible for anyone to believe, and Dani concluded that it was just an adult game that Asa and Elizabeth indulged in.
Did the evil spirit survive?
After realizing that she was a danger to the people around her, Elizabeth decided to commit suicide, but Asa (the evil spirit) entered her clinic at the right time. The ominous spirit was connected by mind with Elizabeth, and he knew what her intention was. It was during this time in Suitable Flesh that we found out that the evil spirit had been in the mortal world for a long time, and he moved from one body to another according to his wish. While the bodies died, he continued to live. He believed he was born a man, but he enjoyed living in Elizabeth’s body and was ready to experiment. Elizabeth noticed that the spirit’s attention was fixed on the bright reflection that was created by the light hitting the knife. By careful, steady, oscillating movement, she managed to grab the spirit’s attention, and it entered a state of hallucination. Elizabeth attacked him in the head, but when he resisted, she pushed him out of the window. Asa’s body was on the road, but that was not enough to confirm the complete destruction of the evil spirit. She got in her car and repeatedly hit her body. Asa was declared dead, and his body was taken to the hospital for an autopsy.
Elizabeth was arrested and handed over to the psychiatric ward. Dani was dealing with her case, and even though she repeatedly said that Asa (the evil spirit) was destroyed, Elizabeth had a tough time believing it. At the end of Suitable Flesh, it turned out that Beth was right; the spirit lived even though the body could not function after all that it had been through. Panic started to spread all across the hospital when the body moved. Elizabeth experienced a seizure once again, and the spirit entered her body while she was transferred to the battered body of Asa. Even though the body was barely functional, Beth tried her best to ask Dani for help. After listening to the entire story, Dani knew what was going on. She threatened to seek revenge on the spirit, and it attacked her in return. The spirit entered Dani’s body for convenience but soon transferred to Elizabeth’s body when it felt threatened. But there was no winning with the evil; even though Dani tried to attack Elizabeth (the evil spirit) with a scalpel, it was impossible to kill it. Elizabeth’s soul perished after Dani shot Asa in the head twice. She did not wish for her friend to suffer anymore, and death was the only choice she had.
During Suitable Flesh‘s ending, we find Dani comforting Edward, discussing how it was Beth’s work-life balance that had hampered her sanity. When Edward left, the spirit could finally stop pretending and be the rolled-cigarette-loving soul that it was. The ending makes it obvious that the evil spirit continued to live in Dani’s body while Dani was trapped in Elizabeth’s body. Elizabeth (Dani) was kept in a locked room at the psychiatric ward, and no matter how loudly she screamed for help, there was no one around to believe her story. The person Dani saw in the mirror was not her, and that troubled her all the more, suggesting that it would drive her insane ultimately. The evil spirit, like Dani, has already started searching for the next victim, and Edward seems to fit its criteria. According to the text, it was Ephraim who had taken possession of the bodies, but in Suitable Flesh, there is no direct mention of who the evil spirit was. Was it Ephraim who continues to haunt people, or was it the spirit of a man who managed to keep his soul alive through black magic? The book that Asa’s father read consisted of images that indicated his interest in black magic, though, of course, it was not Asa’s father who was reading the book but the evil spirit, who perhaps continued with his experiments and rituals to live in host bodies.