Book Review

Weanée Kimblewood

Eron Sheean:
Errors of the Human Body.

Actors: Michael Eklund, Karoline Herfurth
Directors: Eron Sheean
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Unrated
DVD Release Date: August 13, 2013
Run Time: 101 minutes
Price: 21.00 USD

Gloomy Lights, Empty Corridors

For a desperate genius, there are no limits or taboos but one: the screenplay. Did Australian writer/director Eron Sheean master this challenge and inspire the audience?

To copy or even improve on evolution’s work has been mankind’s pipe dream since ancient times. Just think of the Ancient Greeks’ mythological super­hero, Prometheus, who is said to have created man from clay. Or the Jewish fictional being, Golem, that was assembled entirely from inanimate matter. Even Mary Shelley condemned her hideously ugly creation, Frankenstein’s monster, to a miserable existence in grief and despair. Less than 180 years later, rapid scientific progress has made the creation of new life conceivable. In 1991, molecular geneticist, Eckard Wimmer, and his co-workers performed the first test-tube de-novo synthesis of an organism (the poliovirus) in the absence of a natural template outside living cells. Human genome decipherer, Craig Venter, followed in May 2010 with the world’s first creation of synthetic life, when sucessfully transferring an entire bacterium genome into another cell.

As you see, some scientists will stop at nothing to bring their daredevil visions into being, holding nothing back – not even themselves. Geoff Burton (played by Michael Eklund), is one of those obsessive geniuses, driven by a morbid impetus to find a cure for the hereditary disease that once caused the death of his infant son. While struggling to establish a working group in an obscure research institute in Dresden, Germany, Burton bumps into his former assistant Rebekka (played by Karoline Herfurth), with whom he once had an extramarital affair. The unexpected encounter soon develops into a partly private, partly business relationship again: Rebekka has found a previously unknown regeneration gene that could not only cure almost any disease, but even wipe out the physical consequences of old age.

Stay away from my transgenic mouse, colleague! Photo: Pandastorm Pictures

A driven, desperate gene wizard

But the putative miracle gene is perfidious, attracting their overambitious colleague Jarek (played by Tómas Lemarquis). And Jarek’s behaviour becomes more and more disturbing. Is he a jealous competitor or is he keeping a dark secret? Burton accuses him of having stolen Rebekka’s results, together with data about the novel gene, in order to claim the scientific laurels for himself. A suspicion arises in Burton that Rebekka might have had a secret affair with his odd rival. Accidentally bitten by a transgenic lab mouse, Burton dramatically changes his personality, along with – most disturbingly – his external appearance. He gradually undergoes a strange transformation into a human guinea pig, chased by murky creatures. What is paranoid imagination, what is reality?

In preparation for his 2013 psychological thriller, Errors of the Human Body, director Eron Sheean spent three months as an “artist in residence” at the Dresden Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG). The filming also took place in this futuristic building with its naked concrete floors, illuminated by cold neon lights, creating a rather depressing atmosphere. Whilst working in an authentic operating institute and relying on the expertise of real scientists as advisors (and even as background actors), Sheean had the unique opportunity to create an outstanding masterpiece with both thrilling suspense as well as logical coherence. He failed miserably.

An atmosphere of oppressiveness

Despite dealing with the fascinating issue of accelerated tissue regeneration caused by the transfer of “healing” genes, Errors of the Human Body unfortunately isn’t a great film. It’s not a SciFi movie (too low budget), not an exciting thriller (too predictable), not a heartwarming love story (too brutal) and not a horror movie (not brutal enough). The love affair between Rebekka and Burton remains free of emotion, much of the science is implausible (tumours that grow to the size of a fist within hours!), the acting is wooden, and, worst of all, there is simply no consistent storyline. None! There’s just Burton, looking more and more like Frankenstein’s monster, tottering around menacingly and doing, well, mostly nothing, whilst Rebekka looks fearful and does nothing, too. Director Eron Sheean should have engaged a capable screenplay writer rather than botching the job himself.

It is nearly impossible to feel an affinity for any of the characters. The protagonist is an unhappy zombie, his girlfriend is whiny and weak, his rival is ugly and unsympathetic, and the head of the institute is the typical stereotype of a blockheaded boss. In short, to watch this film is a pure waste of time.

Letzte Änderungen: 08.05.2014