Boris Rodriguez’s low-key Canadian comedy concerns Lars (Thure Lindhardt, TV’s The Borgias), who moves to a small town to become an art teacher at a tiny, underfunded school. Once was a gifted painter himself, Lars has been stuck in a 10-year creative rut.
One of his students is Eddie (Dylan Scott Smith, 2012’s Total Recall), a gentle giant of an adult seemingly with the mind of a child, albeit one who doesn’t speak. A fellow teacher (Georgina Reilly, Pontypool) tells Lars that when Eddie was a boy, he witnessed the death of his parents and has lived with his aunt ever since. Because said aunt just passed away, Lars volunteers to watch over Eddie at home.
The bad news is that Eddie eats small animals in his sleep. The good news is that seeing these acts of carnage reignites Lars’ artistic passion.
Using black humor as its main ingredient, Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal is a morality tale, as Lars coerces his easily manipulated, mentally challenged friend to keep killing for the betterment of art. Until Lars crosses that line, however, the relationship he fosters with Eddie is surprisingly moving, and that’s where the movie earns most of its goodwill; it’s as if the carnivorous angle — which is what people will watch the film for (including me, guilty!) — is purely secondary.
The movie is perfectly pleasant — blood and guts excepted — although rarely funny. Big laughs were never expected, and big laughs never arrive; Rodriguez’s tone aims for little more than an attention-getting tickle. Cheers to the three lead performances — all spot-on and well-balanced — and to the clever use of a classical-music DJ in the opening and closing scenes to bring this sad, skewed story full-circle. —Rod Lott