Film Review: The Scribbler

Determinedly cult, this exploitation of troubled feminine psyches is exhausting in its forced edginess—and damned noisy, to boot.

Welcome to the snake pit, 2014, and boy has the place gotten uglier. In The Scribbler, we encounter Suki (Katie Cassidy), who is suffering from schizophrenia and sent to live in Juniper Towers, also known as "Suicide Suites" for the number of young, troubled women who have leaped to their deaths from it. It's a veritable Grand Hotel of weirdos, including one lass who just likes to be naked; Alice (Michelle Trachtenberg), an enigmatic but undoubtedly dangerous Goth maiden; Cleo (Gina Gershon), who sports a cobra, rather than asp, around her neck, and Hogan (Garret Dillahunt), the only male, who's had sex with them all, explaining, "They all have daddy issues and I'm in the penthouse suite."

Director John Suits and screenwriter Dan Schaffer have concocted one bizarre film here, which tries mightily and indefatigably to shock and awe you. They really go to town with the aural/visual effects to depict Suki's personality disorder, as she madly writes across the walls of her cement cell—the words are all backwards, and this manic propensity of hers has earned her the film's title as a nickname. It's all shaped as a whodunit, for it becomes slowly clear that all those suicide jumps were actually the result of being pushed, and that's when Moss (Michael Imperioli) and Silk (Eliza Dishku, overly groomed and made up as if for a TV appearance) come in, as a particularly hapless cop and shrink team determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Meanwhile, Suki subjects herself more and more to the jolting "Siamese Burn," an electroshock machine which was designed, it seems, to fry her schizoid personalities right out of her.

With its endless edginess and unhealthy obsession with madness at its most flamboyant, The Scribbler strains to be a cult film, but even the most diehard lovers of cinema strangeness may find it ultimately too nonsensical and needlessly overwrought.

The actresses mainly seem to be in a sort of Angelina Jolie contest—i.e., seeing who can best replicate her Oscar-winning turn in Girl, Interrupted, but with oodles more grit and "dangerousness." Dillahunt again proves himself the sturdiest and most sportsmanlike of leading men, lending considerable charm to an exploitative role that in other hands would have seemed merely obnoxious. But the real booby prize goes to Gershon, in her silent-era vamp drag, who even tops the campiness of her infamous Showgirls appearance here.

Click here for cast & crew information.