Errors of the Human Body: Film Review
Friday, April 19 (IFC Midnight)
Michael Eklund, Karoline Herfurth, Tomas Lemarquis, Rik Mayall, Caroline Gerdolle, Yusuke Yamasaki
A Dresden research center tinkers with world-changing genetics in Eron Sheean's mood-heavy debut.
A mad-science film more interested in exploring its protagonist's emotional baggage than exploiting the monster-movie potential of his research, Eron Sheean's Errors of the Human Body aims at an audience so steeped in horror cinema, it doesn't really need to be scared to take interest. Commercial prospects are poor for a picture that saves anything like a thrill for its final act, though its seriousness and mood may win a few fans among genre devotees.
Michael Eklund plays Geoffrey Burton, a researcher attempting to restart his life after losing an infant son to a new genetic disease and watching his marriage break up in that tragedy's aftermath. Dedicating his career to developing pre-natal tests for "Burton's Syndrome," he takes a job at a Dresden laboratory where his work is revered.
Here, though, other chapters of Burton's backstory wait to haunt him: His onetime student and lover, Rebekka (Karoline Herfurth), hopes to rekindle both aspects of their relationship, while her estranged research partner Jarek (Tomas Lemarquis, whose bald pate and intense gaze evoke a long line of "mwah-ha-ha" laboratory villains) has taken their research in scary directions.
That is, directions that would be scary in another film: Jarek's plan to use mosquitoes, ticks and similar critters to spread vaccines instead of disease has obvious unintended-consequence potential, but Errors doesn't want to explore that. Instead it spends its first hour on laboratory turf wars and relationship drama, paying particular attention to Burton's sad fixation on his ex-wife, who has moved on. Eklund, who resembles a sedated Ethan Hawke, invests ample angst into the performance (a dourness matched by the film's design and photography), but his intensity isn't balanced by developments in the slow-building script.
Climactic events involving a cell-regenerating "Easter Gene" and a bite from a stolen lab mouse give the film's makeup effects team something to do, but never pay off in narrative terms; the story's half-baked O. Henry conclusion is as lifeless as the wunderkammer-like set Sheean uses to frame it.
Production Companies: Instinctive Film, High5Films
Cast: Michael Eklund, Karoline Herfurth, Tomas Lemarquis, Rik Mayall, Caroline Gerdolle, Yusuke Yamasaki
Director: Eron Sheean
Screenwriters: Eron Sheean, Shane Danielsen
Producers: Darryn Welch, Mike Dehghan, Cole Payne
Executive producers: Chris Ouwinga, Bernadette Burgi, Tony Rollo, Cathy Rollo, Ross Bryan, Howard Bryan, Joel Miller, Anna Howard, Nathanial Bolotin, Aram Tertzakian, Rainer Bruns, Justus Peter, Suzanne de Passe, Madison Jones, Sanny van Heteren
Director of photography: Anna Howard
Production designers: Karin Betzler, Katrin Gerheuser
Music: Anthony Pateras
Costume designer: Claudia Torsiello
Editor: Patrick Wilfert
No rating, 97 minutes