Calling a movie Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal seems like a blatant bid for cult status, subdivision Intentional Camp. Onscreen, however, Boris Rodriguez’s debut feature is called simply Eddie (at least on the copy provided for review), and the movie itself, to its credit, reflects that more sedate approach. But there is in fact a sleepwalking cannibal; for those whose fondest wish is to see a big, beefy dude lumbering through snowdrifts in his underwear in the middle of the night, looking for small animals and/or people to devour, Eddie certainly delivers. Yet beneath the surface outrageousness lies a surprisingly, satisfyingly dark little fable about the essentially cannibalistic nature of artistic inspiration.
Danish actor Thure Lindhardt (Keep The Lights On) plays the artist in question, a renowned painter who hasn’t accomplished anything of note in a decade. To pay the bills, he’s taken a position as a teacher at an art school in a small, frozen Canadian town. Almost immediately upon arrival, however, he’s informed that the mute, mentally impaired hulk at the back of his class, Eddie (Dylan Scott Smith), needs a temporary home, for reasons too dopey and contrived to relate in detail. Lindhardt agrees to take Eddie in… only to find, to his horror, that the stress of relocation inspires somnambulistic snacking in his new charge. More horrible still, though, is Lindhardt’s realization that seeing the carnage and viscera Eddie leaves in his wake every night ignites his dormant creativity, fueling one spectacular canvas after another. It isn’t long before Lindhardt takes to leaving Eddie’s window open, and passive acceptance soon leads to active encouragement, with the desperate artist seeking out suitably noxious victims for his muse.
Rodriguez isn’t much of a filmmaker yet, and Eddie lurches about almost as violently as its title character, with multiple jarring edits betraying an amateur’s touch. But he has a strong metaphor at the film’s center, and Lindhardt, who physically resembles a cuddlier version of Rutger Hauer, isn’t afraid to explore the seamier nature of an artist’s life, allowing himself to become much more of a monster than Eddie. Canada seems to have a knack for unconventional horror movies; this one isn’t quite as ostentatiously brainy as Pontypool, the linguistic-zombie flick that came out a few years back, but two of that film’s superb lead actors, Stephen McHattie and Georgina Reilly, appear here as Lindhardt’s agent and love interest, respectively, increasing the sense that the projects are kindred spirits. Culture is dangerous up north.