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Robert Hull [Film Festival 04.26.12] Canada horror comedy

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Coming on like Fargo meets Shaun of the Dead, Boris Rodriguez’s debut feature is a funny, quirky, horror that also manages to take a nibble at the pretentions of the art world too. We’re not in slasher territory here, instead this one keeps its shocks short (if not sweet) but while the gore may not be piled high, the laughs are certainly at the top of the menu.

Lars (Thure Lindhardt) is the crisis-stricken artist whose dealer arranges for him to take a ‘therapeutic’ teaching job in a snow-filled small town. The hope is that Lars can relocate the passion of his previous work, without reverting to blood and guts for inspiration. That doesn’t happen. Instead, Lars’ fellow teachers land him with Eddie, the mute, sort-of slow-witted son of the art school’s patron. Eddie’s in mourning for his mother, and the school is worried about where its now-departed cash-cow’s money will be heading.

Eddie’s traumatized by his mom’s death, making him prone to the odd night-time stroll – while asleep. And when out walking, Eddie gets a hunger, a bad, bad hunger – and it must be sated. The benefit for Lars? A steady stream of artistic ‘inspiration’, and body parts.

Two elements make ‘Eddie’ really stand out: the spot-on ebb and flow of the movie, and its performances. Rodriguez (also to be credited for a sharp, witty script) builds the story of Lars and Eddie, along with Lars’ budding relationship with fellow teacher Leslie (Georgina Reilly) allowing time for the characters to develop but without losing sight of the necessary humour or the movie’s finishing line. ‘Eddie’ never feels like it lingers in one place for too long.

The performances are all excellent, mostly because, while this is a dark comedy, everyone plays it for real. There are no knowing winks or asides – a mere raised eyebrow or furrowed brow communicates the laughs but without the character signposting the gag. From Paul Braunstein as Verner, the Fargo-esque cop, to Dylan Smith as Eddie (a man with no dialogue, but a definite screen presence), everyone fits and fills their role. And that’s what makes it so engaging to watch.

And, as an extra bonus, there’s one of the funniest voiceovers you’ll have heard for a long-time set amid the omnipresent, understated score. A radio DJ presents opera classics and in his own inimitable style explains the story behind the piece, kind-of like this: “And as a mother blindfolds her son, pushes him off a cliff and then stabs herself to death, the father wades into a river of tears and forces himself under. Lovely stuff this one, a real classic.” All delivered in a laconic but hilarious style.

So, not only does Eddie tell us a little about the pomposity of art but it also skewers the larger-than-life, often farcical nature of what opera is all about. This comes on top of meshing humour and horror, I mean, come on, how much more can you expect a movie to cram in? While it might not be to the palate of those who like their horror genuinely horrifying, ‘Eddie’ is definitely one to savour. And if you don’t agree? Eat me!

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