Zach Green and Richard Powell of Canada-based Fatal Pictures return with Heir, their latest horror short film… and boy, it’s a disturbing one.
After the success of the truly outstanding 2012 short Familiar, a very, very hard act to follow, making any film would have been challenging, but they really pull it off here.
-WARNING: THIS REVIEW, WHILE SPOILER-FREE, IS ABOUT A FILM DEALING WITH *VERY* SENSITIVE AND DISTURBING SUBJECT MATTER THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR ALL READERS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED! –
Written and directed by Richard Powell, Heir tells the story of a middle-aged father (Robert Nolan) taking his teenage son (Mateo D’Avino) to meet up with a mysterious man he met online (Bill Oberst Jr.). While none of the characters’ intentions are made completely clear at first, the discovery is nothing short of horrifying as the filmmakers tackle the extremely touchy, and sadly relevant, subjects of pedophilia and child abuse, albeit in a very odd way.
It never once outright says what’s going on, and it stays very ambiguous throughout the entire film, but a quick glance just one level between the lines will reveal the deeply disturbing truth. The pedophiles, which are visually represented as horrific inner monsters literally coming out of them. This is achieved through fantastic practical effects, capturing a visceral, stomach-turning reaction from its viewers with its subtle-yet-potent displays of sexual imagery and visual innuendo. I would explain in better detail exactly what I’m talking about here, but I won’t as
A: I don’t want to spoil anything here
and B: I just don’t want to anyway, as it’s exceptionally disturbing to think about. Let’s just say there’s a lot of tentacles, suspiciously familiar-looking goo, and the like all throughout this one, and leave it at that.
As has become commonplace in Fatal Pictures films, Heir features outstanding camerawork, top-notch sound, and most notably, an absolutely stellar cast. Robert Nolan and Bill Oberst Jr. show exceptional on-screen chemistry, capturing their characters and playing off each other so well you’d swear they weren’t even acting at all – which, given the subject matter, serves to make it all the more terrifying and unsettling. Also worth noting is that none of the cast look like your traditional Hollywood types, and instead look like real, everyday people. This is so important to note, because it adds such a degree of realism and believability to the picture, which again only serves to enhance the horror experience, given that these people could very well live down the street from you. You simply can’t fabricate that level of visual storytelling, and whether intended or not, it is perhaps the single most important part of this film.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Heir is one of the most disturbing short films you’re likely to see anywhere. Without a single word of lewd dialogue, and without ever outright stating its actual premise, or actually showing you anything, it manages to capture a skin-crawling, unsettling terror that will actually make you feel a bit guilty for watching this. It’s true, visceral, psychological horror that preys on your emotions and morality, while reminding you of the real monsters that live among us. While at times it is a bit hard to follow, and could benefit from a little more exposition and world-building, it’s still an excellent film from an outstanding cast and crew that’s well worth seeing… if you have the nerves for it, that is. – 9.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine