A Canadian/Danish co-production, Eddie – The Sleepwalking Cannibal tells the story of Lars (Thure Lindhardt), a one-time painting protégée who has just taken a teaching post at a struggling art school in remote Koda Lake. Once there, Lars falls for the school’s resident sculptress (Georgina Reilly) and befriends disabled student Eddie (Dylan Smith), offering to take the latter in in an attempt to endear Lesley and appease the school’s principal benefactor. When he discovers that Eddie not only sleepwalks but eats people in the process, he finds the inspiration to begin painting again, covering his tenant’s tracks in order to re-live his glory days and reclaim his reputation.
If the film’s setting is purely Canadian (with Koda Lake an amalgamation of Eastern Ontario, Ottowa and Quebec), then its tone is distinctly Scandanavian, evoking comparisons to the sardonic likes of Troll Hunter and Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters. Combining farce, satire and good, old-fashioned surrealism, writer-director Boris Rodriguez beautifully offsets his latest film’s penchant for over-the-top, Romero-esque gore with a dry comedic sensibility that proves enormously entertaining.
A large part of the film’s success stems from the easy chemistry between likeable leads Lindhardt and Smith. As they take up their respective positions in the Frankenstein mould, the actors continue to inject their performances with wit and humour, thereby undercutting any inherent familiarity. While Smith judges his “sleepwalking cannibal” perfectly – from his toddler-esque conscious to his hulking unconscious – Lindhardt creates a wonderfully understated but by no means uncomplicated protagonist. Shaped by the gruesome fate that befell his parents – his recollection of the tragedy proving almost as memorable as Phoebe Cates’ in Gremlins – Lars is both inherently sympathetic and oddly repellent, propogating a duplicity and sense of growing unease that will serve the film well come its grisly finale.
With its beautiful locations, capable cast and oddball sense of humour, Eddie – The Sleepwalking Cannibal is a movie that both impresses on a technical level and entertains as a Friday night popcorn flick. Equal parts Fargo, Slither and Troll Hunter, it is an assured horror-comedy, and a burgeoning cult classic with enough personality and verve to deserve a wider audience, too.