Appellate Judge Mac McEntire wonders where the sleepwalking cannibal Cruisers are.
Part sleepwalking cannibal…part muse.
Lars (Thure Lindhardt) is a once-successful artist who has now lost the will to paint, so he's reduced himself to teaching at an art school in a small town in the middle of nowhere. There, he meets Eddie (Dylan Smith), a mute, mentally disturbed art student. Eddie's wealthy parents keep the school in business with their generous grants, so the school pretty much takes care of Eddie, and that's how Eddie ends up moving in with Lars.
Lars and Eddie do the "odd couple" routine, which then gets a lot odder. Not only does Eddie sleepwalk, but he kills and eats people while sleepwalking, waking up with no knowledge of what he's done. Lars is at first horrified to discover this, but this horror inspires him to start painting again. The more people Eddie kills, the more successful Lars gets with his artwork. Now, the question is, how long can Lars keep this up?
What we have here with Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal is a lighter, smaller take on horror-comedy. It's more interested in being quirky and even quaint than it is in scares. I'm reminded in a good way of early Roger Corman efforts such as Bucket of Blood and the original Little Shop of Horrors. All these films follow the plot of a sad sack protagonist who kills someone for personal gain, but then falls into a spiral where he has to keep killing to maintain that personal gain, only to have it all blow up in his face at the end. It's the stuff of classical tragedies, dating back to Shakespeare's "Scottish play" and beyond.
With a plot this familiar, that should free up the filmmakers to be as quirky and odd as this premise calls for. Unfortunately, there are only a few times that the movie really goes for the grotesque, playing up the sleepwalking cannibal premise for all its worth. There's scene in which Lars uses a lure to lead Eddie through the snowy woods at night in search of prey, and it's here that we get the ghoulish thrills the movie offers. Most of the runtime, though, is devoted to Lars during the day, fretting over his art and finding romance with a lovely coworker (Georgina Reilly, Pontypool). I appreciate that the filmmakers are going for more of a low-key vibe in their horror movie, but Lars's daily life is a little too low-key.
A lot of the movie relies on the audience buying that a friendship of sorts develops between Lars and Eddie, but we never get a real sense of Eddie. It's one thing to have a character who is mute, but Eddie is more than mute, he's a complete blank. He's not given much a personality at all. Sleepwalking Eddie should be an entirely different persona from regular Eddie, but they're pretty much the same. A better sense of who Eddie is would have gone a long way in getting the audience invested in these characters and their dilemma.
Although a low-budget movie, it's nicely filmed. Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal (Blu-ray)'s high-def picture really brings out all the depth and detail in the snowy Canadian woods. Audio is also good, clean and clear. For extras, there is a making-of featurette, a short film from the same director, and the trailer.
Although it's not the movie it could have been, Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal is fine for what it is, and will make a pleasant diversion for horror newbies not yet ready for likes of something like Dead Alive.
Gristly, but not guilty.
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