Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tribeca ’12: Eddie - the Sleepwalking Cannibal

The Canadians and Scandinavians are all very polite, right?  Maybe so, but there are those who are also pretty twisted.  Happily, we will be meeting a two of them in Boris Rodriguez’s wonderfully aptly titled Eddie – the Sleepwalking Cannibal (trailer here), which screens during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Lars Olafssen has an international reputation and a chronic case of painter’s block.  Since he can no longer create art, he figures he might as well teach and the Koda Lake Art School is remote enough for him to do so anonymously.  (Those Canadian winters are hardly intimidating for a Dane.)  Yet, as soon as he arrives, he starts getting pressure to paint, both from the school’s dean and his serpentine agent.  Having given up on his artistic career, Olafssen just wants to fit in and impress the skeptical colleague he is attracted to.  Towards that ends, he agrees to look after Eddie, the traumatized man-child of the school’s recently deceased patron.

Guess what Eddie the gentle giant does in his sleep?  Actually, it usually just involves small woodland creatures.  However, getting in his way while sleep-walking can be dangerous, as Olafssen observes.  Much to his shock, the sight of blood actually spurs the artist’s long dormant creative juices.  Let the carnage facilitation begin.

As great as its title is, Eddie – the Sleepwalking Cannibal does not quite do the film justice.  Sure, there is plenty of sleepwalking cannibalism, but this is a surprisingly droll and sophisticated picture.  While it mashes up plenty of horror elements, it is the “artistic” mentality that really gets thoroughly skewered.

A nearly lifelong veteran of arthouse cinema, a twelve year-old Thure Lindhardt debuted in Pelle the Conqueror and was somewhat recently commanding the screen as Danish resistance hero Bent Faurschou-Hviid (a.k.a. Flame) in the riveting Flame and Citron.  As Olafssen, he is more than just a good sport.  He portrays the painter’s mounting creepiness quite credibly and seamlessly.  An effective on-screen counterpart, Dylan Smith plays poor Eddie with a keen physicality, suggesting a tragically reluctant monster, roughly in the tradition of Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolfman.
Eddie – the Sleepwalking Cannibal is a smart fun film.  It will not disappoint the genre enthusiasts who regularly attend Tribeca’s Cinemania (formerly Midnight) screenings, but will also appeal to a wider audience of festival patrons.  Really good stuff, the Sleepwalking Cannibal screens again this coming Saturday (4/28) as this year’s Tribeca Film Festival continues at venues throughout Lower Manhattan.