Patrick Gamble

EIFF 2012: ‘Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal’ review

★★★☆☆

Boris Rodriguez’s Canadian/Danish collaboration Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal (2012) is the epitome of everything a midnight movie should be – entertaining, gory and a hell of a lot of fun. Struggling to find his inspiration, formerly-famous Danish painter Lars (Thure Lindhardt) takes a creative sabbatical to work as an art teacher in a remote Canadian town. He finds himself befriending Eddie (Dylan Smith), the mute nephew of the art school’s major beneficiary.

However, Eddie has a dark secret – when he’s distressed or traumatised, he embarks on nocturnal killing sprees of small animals whilst sleepwalking. Despite being initially disgusted by Eddie’s bloodthirsty night-time activities, Lars finds himself drawing artistic stimulus from the inhumanity he witnesses. With a new muse in the shape of his sleepwalking cannibal friend, he once again starts painting, quickly becoming dependent on Eddie for inspiration. Like any addiction however, Lars quickly finds himself desperate for a more intense rush – culminating in degree of barbarism that quickly spirals out of control.

The use of art to express pain and suffering is a delightfully droll narrative tool for this dead-pan comedy horror, further enhanced by a classical score which only amplifies this unconventional merger of art violence. All the usual genre tropes are here to embellish the cultural signifiers, with Eddie’s cumbersome mannerisms recalling both the senseless mindlessness of a zombie with the imposing physical presence of Frankenstein’s monster – culminating in a fascinating and unique piece of Danish-infused western filmmaking.

There’s something delightfully absurd about Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal’s dark comedy, simultaneously embracing the genre’s playful approach whilst installing a refreshing slant on a popular sub-genre. Whilst Eddie would appear to be the film’s titular antagonist, it is in fact art that is the malevolent force in this inventive example of cult cinema. A quote by Picasso from the film’s malignant art dealer claims “Art is bigger than me, it makes me do its bidding!” This perfectly sums up the core theme of the film, taking the belief that all art stems from a subconscious internal anguish and amplifying the theme to absurd levels.

Often struggling to successfully intertwine its tenuous narrative diversions with the film’s enticing premise, Rodriguez’s Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal can at times feel a little muddled and untidy. Yet it remains a thoroughly enjoyable and amusing experience, a perfect palette-cleanser for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival programme.

The 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival takes place from 20 June-1 July, 2012. For more of our EIFF 2012 coverage, simply follow this link.

Patrick Gamble

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