When I glanced at the subject line in my email for my very first screener to review for The Blood Sprayer, thinks got a little…judgmental. I couldn’t help but immediately cull the idea of sitting through a Tromaesque splat fest with dick and fart jokes thrown in for good measure. In actuality, I was almost dreading the 1 hour and 22 minute viewing. I’ve never been one to jump aboard much of Troma’s library post 1989. Sure there were a few that stood above the rest (Def By Temptation, Terror Firmer, Citizen Toxie), yet for every 2 or 3 decent Troma films, a plethora of garbage lay in wait. Troma’s shortcomings aside, “Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal” (NOT affiliated with Troma by the way) is nothing short of brilliant.
Lars Olafssen (played by the always profound Thure Lindhardt) is a famous painter on the downward spiral from his once illustrious career. Once a world-class name in the art scene, Lars has never recovered from a traumatic accident that happened over a decade ago, causing his art and his validity to suffer tremendously. With his next painting endeavor in an unforeseen limbo, Lars’ art dealer, Ronny (Stephen McHattie of Pontypool fame) arranges for him to teach at an art school in a small, Canadian town named Koda Lake, in hopes of sparking that famous creativity. It is here that Lars meets Lesley (Georgina Reilly) who, although standoffish and unimpressed at first, can’t help but become starstruck and charmed by Lars’ presence. Lars is also introduced to Eddie (the impressive Dylan Scott Smith) who is an enigma at first glance. Eddie’s aunt (now deceased) was a very important contributor to the art school’s continuing existence and would continue to contribute (post death) if Eddie was properly taken care of. Lars, although somewhat reluctant at first, agrees to house Eddie. What Lars is unaware of is Eddie’s obscure sleepwalking disorder which transforms him from shy, introvert art student into ravenous. unstoppable flesh-eater.
“Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal” (‘Eddie’) is one of those rare, iconoclastic horror films that intellectually blends competent black humor with strong, emotionally endearing characters in the vein of “Shaun of the Dead”. There are many laugh out loud moments that do not over-insert themselves amid the natural comedic progression and drama. The comedy is smart and used in very precise increments to pad out the film’s bleak overtones. It’s very easy to find oneself simultaneously laughing and covering widening grins in disgust. “Eddie” is a film rich in humor and emotional parody yet its true strengths lie in its ability to create polarizing views of both Eddie and Lars at very crucial moments of the film.
Eddie is very likable and breadth for empathy; more akin to Frankenstein’s Monster. His true nature is affable, protective, and curious. It is because of his good-nature and dour, puppy dog eyes that the viewer is easy to invest emotionally into his character. It is very hard to “not like” Eddie as he clutches his cereal box to his chest in comfort, as it is when he is ripping someone’s head off and devouring their blood. To see Eddie smile melts the heart with joviality; to see Eddie devour human flesh ushers in sentiments of pity and sorrow. It helps to know that Eddie’s cannibalistic tendencies are very controllable (after a certain time) and are used in somewhat of a defense mechanism to trauma. A happy Eddie is a not-so-hungry Eddie.
When it comes to Lars, you cannot help but be charmed. Although somewhat defeated and looking for that creative spark, he still holds passion in his eyes. His humanitarianism isn’t lost within his steadily declining fame also. He yearns to become accepted at the school and as his relationship with Eddie solidifies (albeit in a very bloody way), his desire to create art coincides with his desire to help the school financially. Lars is yet another great example of a polarizing character that tends to inebriate the viewer with strong, empathetic emotions with traces of hope and renewal. His relationship with Eddie before, during, and after the cannibalistic endeavors is treated with kid gloves at points but comes to a header when Lars realizes that Eddie is very happy with him which, in turn, causes the cannibalism and creative juices from flowing. The method Lars uses to coax the cannibal back out of Eddie is very heart wrenching, yet the sympathy for Lars never falters.
“Eddie” is a film derived from the very essence of the artistic expression. Filmmakers, artists, musicians, and the like all can take a piece of this films quintessence and envelope themselves into a whirlwind of collective emotions. Boris Rodriguez is a very competent filmmaker who has a very strong eye for the beautiful and the mystic. He uses the camera to shrewdly hide some of the more extreme gore so as to not promote it in importance but to merely use it in collaboration with his protagonists struggle of morality. It is this struggle alone that links us and binds us to the fabric of the film…our own artistic voices are on display for us to dissect and (if applicable) absolve.
Catch “Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal” in theaters and VOD on April 5th from Doppelganger Releasing!