I will be one of the first to admit that my home country of Canada isn’t the greatest for producing widely accessible and noteworthy films. Sure, there’s been Videodrome, Ginger Snaps, Black Christmas and so on, but you’d have to admit that consistency isn’t our forte. Enter Danish filmmaker Boris Rodriguez, who with the collaboration of his Canuck counterparts has created a unique and funny twist on cannibalism with Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal. The film made it’s North American premiere last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, and is currently on VOD and having a limited run in theatres. Does Eddie deserve to come in from the cold?
Lars Olafssen is a painter looking to get back his glory days. Seems he’s hit a creative slump, coupled with the death of his father who committed suicide after Lars’ mother was accidentally killed with a lawnmower. His agent Ronny persuades Lars to take up a teaching stint at an art school located in Koda Lake. Lars accepts the job, but upon his arrival has to take on baggage in the form of Eddie, a hulking mute of a man whose last relative has died. Said relative left the art school a generous amount of money on the condition that Eddie be taken care of by the school. Lars reluctantly agrees, and eventually begins to take a liking to Eddie. Unfortunately, Eddie has a bit of a problem with sleepwalking. Eddie also has a bigger problem while sleepwalking: he ends up killing and eating things, eventually working his way up to people. To complicate matters, Lars’ creativity begins to flourish out of witnessing Eddie’s habit. What’s a guy got to do?
Judging from the synopsis, you can tell that the film is one of those screwball comedies, but never really goes all-out and devolves into outright silliness. That’s a good thing, since I don’t think the film would be as endearing as it is. Thure Lindhardt, who plays Lars, is the straight man in his performance with a touch of morbidity. Much of it comes from being Eddie’s enabler, while the rest comes from Lars’ penchant for using said morbidity as his inspiration for art. In spite of this, Lars comes off as a lovable loser type. Lindhardt’s deadpan delivery elicited more than a few chuckles, in conjunction with the film’s narrative that great art can only be achieved through suffering and pain.
The other half of the Lars/Eddie duo is Dylan Scott Smith, who I have to give huge props for the physical acting. Keep in mind that Eddie never utters a word. This leaves Smith taking the Frankenstein’s monster approach with Eddie: using body language to tell the story. Smith is able to paint a stark contrast between the awake Eddie and the sleepwalking Eddie (no pun intended): while awake, Eddie is a gentle giant of a man; while asleep, Eddie is decidedly brutal. Together, Smith and Lindhardt provide an endearing couple who despite the obvious sinister side of things, are quite lovable. As for the other major players, the lovely Georgina Reilly as Lars’ co-worker Lesley is quite likeable, although her role is pretty much your typical love interest for Lars, which plot-wise really doesn’t pan out.
Any negatives towards the film would have to be it’s predictability: bad characters are met with grisly ends, the victim list for Eddie is therefore predictable in of itself, and the ending is once again something you’ll see coming. There’s also the idea of liking a character like Lars that doesn’t quite sit right. He is, after all, a manipulative man who is using the havoc wreaked by Eddie as his source of inspiration, despite Eddie doing away with the other unlikeable characters with the targets painted on their backs. Still, I guess you can count that as his flaws as a character, even if those flaws end up having people getting munched.
Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal can best be thought of as a counterpart to Fido (which, incidentally, is also a Canadian film). While Eddie leans on the black comedy more than Fido, there’s still that endearing character who just so happens to enjoy eating and killing folks. Coupled with the wonderful performance by Thure Lindhardt and the satirical look at the “suffering artist”, Eddie deserves to be seen at least once by horror fans, even if the predictability of the plot does take away some of the fun.