What I'm Watching: Gravy
We're halfway through Octoberween and the 6th, 6th! 6TH!! anniversary, and I'm keeping up surprisingly well with actually getting out quicky reviews on a daily basis. But now's as good a time as any to pause and remind folks this isn't ALL horror. That will always be my initial go-to for reviews, but I enjoy comedy and comics, and occasional tv shows.
Gravy is more on the comedy side of things, but it definitely sticks close to horror themes, and has a pretty high body pile for a comedy. Which is just the way I like things, so let's get on with this...
As a restaurant on Halloween is closing, there's a few stragglers who turn out to be welding the doors shut and take the employees still there hostage. It looks like a robbery at first, but the captured people quickly realise that's not the plan. The trio that have taken hold of the restaurant are cannibals and have chosen Raoul's as their annual Halloween feast.
"To be honest, tonight's not really about roughage."
The movie has one heck of a slooow start with IMO dopey humour. We're introduced to some awkward characters being overly silly, and it made it hard to dive right into the movie. Once we get to Raoul's, things get better, but those first few minutes are rough. Thankfully, they pay of well by the end, and it establishes one of the soon to be cannibals as an almost lovable dork.
The tone of this movie is strange but fun. In a lot of ways, the story plays straight, with a lot of the humour coming from the dialogue or characters, but then it shifts wildly to just be wacky and nonsensical, while somehow feeling not out of place at all. If you've watched a lot of Psych, you know the sense of humour of that show's star, and this movie's co-writer/director, James Roday. That's a good indication of what you're in for. The movie bounces between the wacky and the dark and the weird, fairly effortlessly. It's a fine line to walk, and a lot of movies would drop the ball spectacularly. Gravy isn't perfect in that regard, but it does manage to pull it off beeter than expected, and better than most.
"My squeaky toy passed out! ...Can I set him on fire??"
The plot and situations that fill the movie are so far fetched, but the characters are likable, especially the cannibals...which is something I never thought I'd say, but seems to be increasingly common. A lot of that comes from the humour in the script, and the actors themselves bringing a lot of energy and lightness to their parts. You will find yourself laughing as much as being horrified by what's going on.
The movie's use of music is great. It's a great mix of classic rock, and they use it set apart and juxtapose the horror wonderfully. It's good music, if for no other reason than nostalgia, but also has that great use of being against what the movie is showing us.
I love me some dark humour, and Gravy delivers that wonderfully. It never gets TOO dark, even with murder and slicing people up for dinner, and the jokes never overwhelm what's going on to the point of being silly. Well, that's not true, the movie does become silly, but the silliness feels strangely appropriate to the proceedings.
And a quick shout out and note to any fans of NBC's Hannibal tv series that might be reading this...we've become pretty spoiled with our cannibal food porn thanks to that show, and Gravy comes nowhere *close* to reaching the amazing level of food prep and presentation that show had. I certainly don't hold that against the movie, since I have been spoiled in that regard, and it's a high bar to reach. But it is a notable lack, and these people are sure no Hannibal Lecter.
This was a perfect movie to come up in the middle of the month as a palette cleanser (See what I did there?) in between all the other movies I'm reviewing. It's fun, funny, and dark and bloody, and actually has a compelling story filled with interesting, likable characters. I loved Psych and Roday's performance there (And his cameo with a familiar friend is perfect), and seeing him spread out and give a movie that's entirely his, and his co-writer Todd Harthan is a lot of fun. I look forward to seeing what comes from him next, and hope that we get a second helping of Gravy in the future, since things were left open JUST enough.
Gravy is definitely recommended, even if the wackiness does sometimes get in the way of the more balanced humour. But considering who's being this, that's no big surprise, either.