by Marielle Brinda
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The first time I ever watched the 1985 adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s, “Herbert West: Re-Animator,” I was mystified beyond belief. I thought to myself, “How could anyone come up with something so ridiculously entertaining!?” Dead cats, mad scientists, and a headless, horny doctor—what could be better or even as good? Well my friends, nothing. Actually, let me rephrase this—almost nothing.
Heading Home is a new short film by Jane Rose that allows for a much-needed revisit to the days of the macabre insanity of science. Adapted from Ramsey Campbell’s short story, Rose obviously took some pointers from famed Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon. With a creepily playful soundtrack to enhance the dark setting of a young couple’s home, it doesn’t take long for Marie to suspect that her husband is experimenting with things that not even Edward can comprehend. It isn’t until she finally discovers the mystery behind the closed door that the situation turns hostile. The only way for Marie to defend herself is to throw Edward’s special serum in his eyes, giving her enough time to get away- to the local pub that is. What she doesn’t realize is that she has finally given her husband the answer he’s been looking for. Now with the ultimate power, Edward can rest assure that nothing can stop him now- not even an angry butcher.
Although the story is a bit contrived, it falls just a few liters of blood short of being the bastard child of the 1985 cult classic. Actor Ean Sheehy does a fairly convincing job as Edward, the crazy scientist, with his wild eyes and obvious passion for sheer madness. Jenny Mundy-Castle who plays Marie, is a bit predictable and sometimes over the top with her looks of terror. But given that she also has a little crazy in her, it makes up for some of the bad acting.
But the biggest downfall of it all, which could actually make the film for others, is its low production value. It looks like it was shot with Hi-8 tape and barely made it to digital. The sheet scene didn’t do it for me either, but you can blame the production designer for that. However, keeping with the general style of the genre, its lack of visual quality is forgiven. One might even argue that it gives it the feeling of reality. But that’s for you to decide. I personally would have opted for at least PD150 quality- especially if you are going to throw in a few special effects.
And now to stop with the petty critiques! Alas, I must praise the film for its creative use of cut-ins and dissolves! With sporadic inserts of a certain someone inching their way back home from a sort of out of body experience, they kept me on my toes as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on. The inserts also had a green hue that I found refreshing in comparison to the harsh style of the majority of the film.
Now when it comes to dissolves, I would usually say it’s an easy way of cheating the editing, but they actually helped to create a nice, smooth pace for this ten minute horror piece.
So all in all, I think that Lovecraft would be proud. The inspiration is obviously there. In fact, Heading Home was among the official selection for the 2006 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. I wonder what else made the cut? But this gruesome gem is short, entertaining, and guaranteed to provide you with a few good laughs.
Marielle Brinda is a writer and film reviewer in Chicago.
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