I really wanted to love “Gravy.” In fact during some rare moments it manages to win me over, especially with the way it uses its array of character actors to great effect. “Gravy” sadly falls under the weight of its own self satisfaction, eliciting a ton of flat improv, lame ad libbing, unresolved sub-plots, and a climax that goes nowhere very fast. We follow our heroine for ninety minutes all for absolutely zero pay off. Did Roday and co. run out of money or did they run out of ideas?
“Gravy” is set on Halloween night, where a staff of mixed individuals is preparing to shut down a Mexican dive bar for the night. While they celebrate the success of their bartender who is becoming an EMT, they discover they’ve been locked inside their own bar. Their captors are a trio of psychopaths that have tied them up and are fully intent on transforming the entire staff in to a full course meal for their own cannibalistic urges. The flesh eating trio dressed as an axe wielding clown, cross bow shooting Robin Hood, and a hedge clipper brandishing cat, have every intention to eat the staff members, and delight in making them suffer beforehand. “Gravy” occasionally musters up a good laugh or two, as well as displays a knack for originality, to boot. Weston manages to elicit some guffaws with his simple minded psycho who has a ball torturing the staff before murdering them.
There’s also Lily Cole who is demented but sexy as one of the trio who gets way too much pleasure in inflicting pain on her victims. There are also fun turns by Gabourey Sidibe, Gabriel Luna, and Sutton Foster, who is very good as the inadvertent heroine of the film. I enjoy the premise of a small clan of cannibals scouting out locations to trap people and eat them for their rituals on various holidays. It’s also a good indication that Roday knew what genre he was entrenched in since, while the film is mostly a comedy, he spares no detail in splattering the movie with gore and grue. There are hacked off limbs, guts, a bitten neck, a chewed up Achilles tendon, and a horrific gag involving a ceiling fan. It’s a shame, since I thought “Gravy” had potential to be a great and unique horror comedy set in a single location.
And the fact its set on Halloween would have made it a delightful morsel for fans of the holiday. Roday and co. just don’t seem to know where to take the story once the first act has ended, serving up a ton of annoying lingering shots of Jimmi Simpson and Michael Weston trading tongue in cheek one-liners to one another, as well as a weird flashback framed like a silent film. The climax is where “Gravy” really falls to pieces though, losing all momentum and ounce of tension just to soften the film’s violence in exchange for a comic twist and final scene that just fall flat and make no sense. “Gravy” has a lot of good ideas in its corner, but the inability to balance comedy and horror, as well as a painfully messy second half make it a film I just can’t recommend.
The Blu-Ray from Scream Factory features a commentary track from director James Roday and film stars Sutton Foster, and Jimmi Simpson. “What is Gravy?” is a six minute standard behind the scenes with interviews and looks at the production. There’s another Behind the Scenes clocking in at six minutes, as well as the film’s official trailer.