Boris Rodriguez’s comic horror-film “Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal is a cross between “Art School Confidential”, “A Bucket Of Blood” and “Little Shop Of Horror”. Black comedy all the way.
It’s the second smart comic horror film this year. (The first was Don Coscarelli’s wonderfully wacky “John Dies In The End” which is sort of Doug Adams meets “Galaxy Quest”.)
Once famous painter Lars (Thure Lindhardt-“Keep the Lights On”) has a painter’s block. Lars became an overnight success after an accident inspired a series of canvases, which made him and his opportunistic agent Ronny (Stephen McHattie) rich and famous. But he hasn’t painted in years. He takes a job at the rural Koda Art School at Koda Lake. The hippyish dean Harry (Alain Goulem) welcomes him, hoping that a series of his paintings, inspired by their small town, will put the school on the map. But Lars dashes his hopes. Unwilling to discuss his block, Lars insists he’s just there to teach.
The small town isn’t as idyllic as it seems. A prickly encounter with cute art teacher Leslie (Georgina Reilly) sets the tone. Insecure neighbor, school prof Charles (Peter Michael Dillon) takes an instant dislike to Lars, who he imagines is snubbing him when he turns down an invitation for a drink,
Alas, the schools main benefactor passes away. She has left her estate to the school on the condition that they care for her nephew mute Eddie (Dylan Smith). Bashful Eddie, a special-ed palooka, attends class. He paints troubling childlike paintings, but refuses to let anyone see them. Lars convinces him to show him one, and raves over the energized painting of a leonine face with a body in his teeth. It’s the first praise Eddie’s received in a long time.
Dean Harry convinces Lars to let Eddie stay with him and Lars agrees to impress Leslie. Eddie subsists on breakfast cereal, but Lars cajoles him into eating home made meals. This and Lars’s praise and understanding develop a special bond between the two.
One night Lars discovers a naked Eddie returning from a somnambulist jaunt, and the eviscerated body of a half eaten rabbit. He buries the evidence.
Eddie’s the town’s, and specifically the school’s, dirty secret. Traumatized as a child by witnessing his mother’s freak death he was committed to the loony bin for a mysterious episode of cannibalism. Leslie lets Lars in on the secret, but assures him that these bloody sleepwalking incidents are transitory, brought on my stress, no doubt the passing of his watchful Aunt Marjorie.
Driven crazy by his smug ass-holic neighbor’s barking dog, Lars “suggests’ Eddie finish the annoying pooch off, but Eddie goes for an entree rather than a short dog. Peter ‘disappears” and Lars has to cover it up with the faculty.
Once Eddie’s eating more than rabbits Lars finds his creative juices flowing. Thrilled by the paintings Eddie’s paintings unleash, Lars invents various ways to lead Eddie to his selected victims.
Childlike Eddie’s the butt of the local bullies, and Lars points them out as “bad people” indirectly picking out Eddies victims. As his side -kick, or clean up crew, Lars is busy disposing of Eddie’s midnight meals, and filling canvases.
His first sale, a hefty one, bails the school out for another year. What ensues is a freakishly amusing mediation on the inspiration of art.
Rescued by fate, Lars is drunk on his new powers, addicted to the rush of painting, at any cost. The gratitude of the school staff, and Leslie in particular, is a heady reward Lars won’t give up.
Unfortunately, secure in his new friendship, Eddie’s demons subside and the midnight strolls end. Lars is forced to stir up Eddie’s inner cannibal.
Suspicious Police Chief Verner (Paul Braunstein), whose accent makes him a distant cousin of Frances McDormand’s “Fargo” detective Marge Gunderson, is closing in. Well, Police work is a risky profession.
Both Lindhardt and Smith manage to humanize their characters, wining us over to their side despite their horrific acts. It’s a hilarious send up of “the Artist’s process’ watching Lars slap at his canvas to heroic classical music. Intermittent Radio bits with a rather bloodthirsty Opera DJ punctuate the film. David Burns’ oft-dissonant score is another plus.