Creating anything can be difficult, but for the painter Lars (Thure Lindhart), creating his masterpiece, his Mona Lisa, has taken him nearly ten years of blank canvases and frustration. Giving up hope that he can repeat his previous success, he leaves Denmark and settles on a teaching job for a struggling art school in a small snowy town in Canada. He winds up finding the most unusual muse in an adult mute that he soon has to care for named Eddie (Dylan Smith). Eddie is a sort of gentle giant, but with one seriously bad habit: he eats small animals while sleepwalking. It doesn’t take long before Eddie’s late night snacks get out of hand and he starts to feed on a much bigger animal: humans. Lars finds himself suddenly inspired to paint like never before in the face of all the gore, but can he keep the situation contained long enough to paint his masterpiece?
Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal is a dark comedy in the tradition of Heathers, and to a smaller extent, Shaun of the Dead. Unlike the latter, Eddie rarely goes for the slapstick humor; rather it uses a fair amount of on screen gore as the source of most of the comedy. Spot on deadpan deliveries from most of the cast also go a long way towards making every attempt at a laughable moment in the film more or less a success. Eddie isn’t simply a dark/horror comedy film though like Shaun of the Dead, more like Heathers it has an underlying message and makes some honest attempts to add some meaning between the dark laughs.
Lars faces a fair amount of internal conflict as he discovers that Eddie’s late night snacks fuel his creativity. Obviously, having such a muse is ripe with conflict, but after ten years he is also sucked into the rush and thrill of finally painting again. Beyond that, Lars and Eddie as characters seem to quickly build a bond, one that Lars seems willing to exploit but also desperate to protect; going to great lengths to keep Eddie in his care despite coming home late at night in nothing but blood and briefs. Thure Lindhart does a decent enough job portraying this internal conflict, but really his initial shock and then acceptance of Eddie’s monstrous acts is the best part of his performance.
Dylan Smith does a terrific job of portraying Eddie, who never utters a line in the film. During the day Eddie has a Lennie from “Of Mice and Men” sort of gentle giant aspect to his character (plus a certain fondness of rabbits). At night though Eddie may not be entirely terrifying but he is genuinely creepy and somewhat monsterish, a notable disparity from his daytime self. Dylan Smith walks a tough line, playing the same character as both innocent and blood thirsty, the entire time not uttering a single word. For an actor most known as a soldier in 300, he does a terrific job of portraying a shy, gentle mute in Eddie.
The supporting cast ranges from solid to scene stealing. Alain Goulem as the slightly oblivious dean of the school Harry makes the most of his screen time by providing a few laughs and playing the part of a stressed out educator well. Paul Braunstein, as the cliché small town cop Verner, manages to completely steal the scene every time he is on camera and delivers many of the films best laughs. Georgina Reilly also has a solid performance as the main female lead Lesley, acting both as a love interest of Lars and a co-worker/fellow artist at the school. Her performance doesn’t stand out compared to most of the others, but she plays the role well enough that a small surprise later in the film lands well.
The film certainly has a message about art as well. Whether that message is that art is so important that we should do anything to strive for excellence in it or if it is rather a warning for artist to not let it consume them is up for debate. The art message does border on pretentious and starts to wear a bit thin by the end, but if viewed from the interpretation that I am most fond of, that art for profit and fame can become a very dangerous game, it walks the line just well enough to not alienate.
Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal is hardly a perfect film though. The over the top gore goes from dark comedy to just outlandish at times, and a few plot holes make their way into the film by the end. The film also waits a ridiculously long time for Lars to start genuinely confronting the ramifications of what he is doing. Additionally Thure Lindhart’s straight-faced deliveries are fantastic but overall he handled some scenes significantly better than others, where his performance didn’t feel lacking so much as it just couldn’t compete with the other actors in the scene (to be specific most scenes where he had to interact with characters other than Eddie).
Eddie the Sleepwalking Cannibal won’t be the next Heathers or Shaun of the Dead, but fans of either film, or of the dark comedy in general, should certainly give it a viewing. The film does certainly have something to say about art, provides a few genuine laughs and it has a fair amount of heart to it (not just the ones being torn from Eddie’s victims either). You’d be forgiven if you didn’t rush out to see Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal, but the film certainly deserves to be viewed.
Final Rating: 7.5/10
CBR Break Down:
How it was viewed: Theater
Running time: 90 min
Starring: Thure Lindhardt, Georgina Reilly, Dylan Smith
Directed by: Boris Rodriguez
Recommend viewing: Theater or at home would be about equal, but should be viewed with a group.
Current price: $19.95 (Amazon)
Why you should see it: With a name like Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal how can you not?
Why you shouldn’t see it: Dark humor isn’t your thing, because you fail at life.