“Heir’s ending is one that sticks firmly in the mind with a brave image of purely human horror, dismay and revulsion.”
Director Richard Powell’s 14-minute short film Heir opens on a palpably ominous note. A lone man, Gordon, sits in a darkened room, lit only by the artificial light of his computer monitor. An email under construction reads “My son”. The response: “Play date??? :)”
Gordon’s shifty behaviour indicates that he doesn’t want this particular line of communication to be discovered by his wife and child, and also lets us know that whatever’s going to happen here… it isn’t going to be good.
Next, Gordon and his teenage son, Paul, are on the road – off to meet an old friend of Gordon’s. At a roadside diner they sit down with Denis (Bill Oberst Jr., being as impressively creepy as usual) for some awkward, tension-laced conversation before heading off to Denis’ home – where Paul is drugged and rendered unconscious.
At this point, it’s clear as day what this arrangement is… but Gordon’s having serious second thoughts. Paralysed by inner doubt and self-disgust, he’s caught like a rabbit in headlights. Denis, however, will not be dissuaded – and from here Heir busts out some freakishly effective, slime-laden creature effects as its metaphorical bent takes control.
At the core of the story is Gordon’s inner torture, his monstrous tendencies given life through a nasty, slime-spurting hole in the palm of his hand. Drawn to the point of no return by his inescapable urges, he’s nevertheless forced to confront the kind of grotesque creature he could become in order to rescue his son from danger – and actor Robert Nolan brings his desperation to the screen with confrontational aplomb.
Heir is well shot and director Powell makes good use of lighting to change up his scenes, but the editing runs away with it on occasion, leading to some confusing jumps in the narrative that mess with spatial awareness and timing. This has the effect of being jarring for the wrong reasons, serving only as quick and ugly exit/entry points for the next set-piece and leaving the film feeling more jumbled than necessary.
Still, the creature effects are solid and icky, and Heir’s ending is one that sticks firmly in the mind with a brave image of purely human horror, dismay and revulsion. The struggle most certainly isn’t over.
A “touching” tale of father and son, indeed.
Director: Richard Powell
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Robert Nolan, Matteo D’Avino
Release date: 2015