Running Time: 108 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – HCF Official Artist
Having thoroughly enjoyed Todd Freeman’s Cell Count last year, I was looking forward to the ‘body horror’ directorial debut of Eron Sheean, who had previously scripted Xavier Gens’ The Divide. Errors of the Human Body is as much as sombre drama as it is a homage to the David Cronenberg inspired genre of body horror. It investigates the moral aspects of animal experimentation, the human need for companionship and the heartbreak of dealing with the death of a child.
Michael Ekland plays Dr Geoff Burton, a grieving father that transfers to the field of genetics after a viral mutation leads to the death of his infant son. His dedication to the study into Burton’s Syndrome consumes his time leading to the break -up of his marriage (shown in short flashback sequences) and his relocation to a Dresden based, research facility post alongside his former colleague Dr Rebejja Fiedler (Karoline Herfurth) and narcissistic scientist, Jarek Novak (a chilling and obstreperous Tomas Lemarquis). Rebejja and Tomas are wary and distrustful of each other . Fiedler is researching the ‘Easter gene’ capable of increasing cell regeneration in salamanders. Novak is camped in the ‘mouse house’ and is conducting dubious experiments on his rodent friends. Although Fiedler is glad for Burton’s support in developing her research, Fiedler is paranoid and jealous of the American’s presence. When Burton is bitten by one of the laboratory’s infected mice and begins to show signs of his son’s debilitating illness, he realises he has only a limited time to discover a cure.
Unlike the graphic horror of Cell Count, Errors of a Human Body does not indulge in any form of violence or gore until the last quarter of the running time. The bulk of the film consists of a battle of wits between three very different types of scientist with contrasting motivational factors regards their work. Each of the leads is believable and impressive in their respective roles. Ekland in particular is engaging and sympathetic as a man who has not only lost his son but has lost himself also. He struggles to form a romantic relationship with the attractive Rebejja, despite a mutual attraction, to prove to himself that he still has the capacity to love. British comedian, Rick Mayall makes a fun cameo as the research facility’s pompous and forthright boss. He steals the few scenes that he appears in and adds a welcome dose of light relief at the bleak but gripping final act.
Similar to Cell Count, the laboratorial setting adds a sense of claustrophobia and dread to proceedings. The pace is slow but never boring with wonderful camera work and a chilling score. Many horror enthusiasts might be disappointed with the low body count and absence of gore effects but cinema enthusiasts will marvel at a heartfelt human drama with a devastating twist in the tale.