Gravy (2015): Quirky and Gory Cannibal Comedy Horror (Review)

Scene from Gravy

Co-written and directed by James Roday (Todd Harthan was the other writer on the project) Gravy is an quirky cannibal horror film with lashings of gore and enough comedy to make the viewer feel guilty for laughing. 

It is halloween and Anson meets the girl of his dreams in an Altadena convenience store.  Anson has to leave however although he takes time to emotionally bond with Bethany. 

The staff at Raoul’s restaurant are trying to close for the night but there are three customers who cannot take a hint.  Kerry is leaving and Chuy and the rest of her colleagues throw her a little party.

Unfortunately the little group are about to be taken prisoner by a trio of cannibalistic killers. Stef, the leader, is clearly the Hannibal Lector connoisseur. Mimi is a homicidal maniac  and Anson is cheerfully insane. All three like the taste of human flesh.

The night turns into one long torturous event.  People being turned into cannibal cuisine and the few survivors fighting to stay alive. This is all set against a backdrop of comedic one liners, quips and a soundtrack that sets up the visceral absurdity of the action.

While there is a lot of blood spilled and body parts carved up into culinary “treats” for the mad trio of killers, the comedy keeps the whole thing from becoming too much.

From Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang singing Farm Animal Friends  as the killing starts to Mimi calling Bert a “fraggle” and a “wanker” as she tries to kill him, Gravy is funny.

This ensemble film features brilliant performances from all.  The writing is topnotch from Roday and Harthan. (At the start of the film Cricket foretells her own death and it is a nice touch.)

English model and actress Lily Cole is brilliant as the psychotic girlfriend of Stef who pretends to be British. Simpson is oddly apt as the weird leader of this small gang and Weston is a delightful as Stef’s  slightly goofy brother.

Sutton Foster is brilliant as the scheming Kerry and Bluteau is spot on as the French chef with a deadly secret. In all fairness, the ensemble cast all deliver sound comic performances and help to make this “off the wall” comedy horror work brilliantly.

Everything comes together to guarantee laughter throughout the film.  Songs, that include Alice Cooper’s Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, Katrina and the Waves’ Walking on Sunshine and many other rock songs are used to  amplify the action and comedy perfectly.

Some scenes bypass everything to become something more than perfection. The slow-motion approach of Anson, all over-exaggerated leaps to La Bamba is guaranteed to reduce the viewer to hysterical laughter.

The music itself is not perfection however. The sound levels are intrusive and overpower the dialogue, when there is any.  In-between the lines uttered by the film’s players, the soundtrack reaches a massive crescendo of volume that has the viewer hastily reaching for the remote.

Gravy will not be to everyone’s taste. It is horror comedy that is grotesquely absurd but it works on so many levels.

There are moments that really tickle the funny bone. Cricket’s reaction to Kerry’s apparent defection is one of these standout bits. Another is Cricket’s answer to Hector’s request for a date. And of course there is the cocaine scene.

Sutton Foster and Michael Weston kill it in this film and Sarah Silverman proves that she can take a cameo that lasts seconds and turn it into one of the highpoints of the film.

Gravy is a 5 star film, for those who get it, and considerably less to those who do not. In other words the viewer will either love it or hate it. There will be no in between.

James Roday’s initially effort helming a feature length film is a good one. It is streaming on Hulu at the moment. Go check it out and see what you think of this one.

Cast:

James Roday Is Psych’d About Directing SyFy Series ‘Blood Drive’

Psych

Universal Cable Productions (UCP) announced why will reunite with Psych star James Roday. The performer is slated to direct two episodes of the 2017 SyFy series “Blood Drive.”  The new series will be in the style of classic grindhouse and UCP have stated that they are very excited to be working with Roday.

The man who will helm two episodes of the new scripted series played Shawn Spencer on Psych. Not only did Roday play the keen-eyed consulting detective on the USA network series, but he wrote and directed a number of that show’s episodes.

His first feature film, Gravy, a comedy horror film, debuted last year. Roday also just finished working on Pushing Deada dramedy due for release 29 September.  James has also directed a number of episodes on other television shows: Rosewood, Battle Creek and Rush Hour.

Executive Vice President of Current Programming at UCP Richard Rothstein said in the 12 September statement that they were excited to have James “back in the family.” Accepted as a fan favorite from Psych, the VP explained that they knew Roday as an incredibly gifted director who loves the horror genre.

James calls the upcoming project a “ gooey, dystopian all-you-can-eat buffet.”  He admits being a fan for the genre and went on to explain that there is nothing like Blood Drive currently on television.  Roday admitted to signing up “with aplomb.”

The actor and directer confessed that it was great to be back and to work with the collaborative folks at UCP.

James Roland is the series creator and he wrote the pilot episode of Blood Drive as well. The series takes place in a “near-apocalyptic” future and will run for13 episodes.  The show  will follow Arthur Bailey (Alan Ritchson) who is the “last good cop” in LA.

Bailey works with a dangerous “vamp” partner named Grace (played by Christina Ochoa). She has a hidden agenda and is not happy to be stuck with Arthur as a partner. Grace will, however, find out that this “moral” cop is a born survivor. Apparently they have a lot in common.  

The series will be executive produced by John Hlavin, Fredrik Malmberg and David Straiton. Mark Wheeler serves as series producer and Roland, the show’s creator will also executive produce Blood Drive. The new SyFy production is currently filming in South Africa.

Roday’s feature film debut, Gravy, is a splendid first time effort. As a comedy horror film, the plot is outlandish and not afraid to take liberties with good taste. If this is indicative of James’t taste in the genre, the two episodes he directs of  Blood Drive will be very special.

UCP currently work with SyFy on three current shows, The Magicians, 12 Monkeys and Killjoys.  They have a number of scripted, and digital content, on offer across a number of networks. Their shows include Mr. Robot, Colony and Suits. UCP also has Hulu’s Difficult People as a notch on their metaphorical belt. .

Both SyFy and Universal Productions are part of NBCUniversal  which is a  subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. The “imagination-based” entertainment network has the tagline, “Imagine greater.”

Blood Drive is set to air in 2017.