Tribeca 2012 Interview: Boris Rodriguez of EDDIE - THE SLEEPWALKING CANNIBAL

Of all the films I've seen this year at Tribeca -- and the tally is starting to add up -- none brings a smile to my face faster than Eddie - The Sleepwalking Cannibal. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one who's had that reaction, as I've been gratified to see Eddie appear on the shortlist of fest picks from several mainstream outlets, including Yahoo! and The Village Voice, New York's biggest weekly newspaper.

I think it's pretty safe to say, then, that as the buzz builds first-time feature director Boris Rodriguez won't maintain a low profile for too much longer... which is another reason I was grateful he could spare some time to chat.

Twitch: So many horror-comedies, though entertaining, don't reach their full potential because the director seems to favor one mode for whatever reason. That's not at all the case with Eddie, so were you conscious of this balance, or maybe just stayed mindful of your own strengths and weaknesses throughout the creative process?

BR: Had I known how difficult it is to balance comedy and horror, or comedy and drama, I may have intimidated myself out doing this film! But it was a first feature, and I was naive enough to just go for it. The trick was to surround myself exceptionally talented high-calibre talented that rose to the challenge and made it possible to ride that line between funny and horrific.

Speaking of talent, the film expertly plays on the dualism that Thure Lindhardt can so easily project on screen -- he's naturally likable, but also has a dark side. How much of that was achieved simply by casting him, and how much came out of a collaborative effort to match his persona to the character?

BR: Casting is everything. I asked for a star and I got Thure. And by "star," I mean someone who can not only carry a film but can easily switch from comedy to drama. I couldn't be happier when Thure said yes. He was the perfect fit. He's also unassuming, generous and extremely hard-working. If anything, Thure helped me enormously in my directing of him. He has tons more experience than me and knew right away how tricky it would be to balance comedy with horror. Lucky for me, he rose to the occasion, was patient with me, and pulled it off masterfully in the end!

We've all heard the term "functioning alcoholic." In terms of the horror genre, then, could Eddie be termed a "functioning zombie" in that he's largely non-communicative and, um, eats people? Why or why not?

BR: I fret at using the "z" word. Eddie is not a zombie. Yes, he has zombiesque qualities, but he's not a zombie, nor is this a zombie movie in any way. It's important to make that distinction, because the zombie sub-genre raises a lot of expectations. There's usually a post-apocalyptic premise and an ending where a motley crew of survivors battles hordes of the undead. If there ain't hundreds of flesh-eating dead people getting whacked in countless gruesome ways, it's just not a zombie movie. In Eddie, there are select victims being cannibalized in extremely entertaining ways. That's because it's a sleepwalking cannibal movie!

Then how about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari -- did that ever come up? If not, did anything else strike you while planning or making the film in terms of influences or antecedents?

BR: Dr. Caligari never came up, but I could see why it would. The films we referenced when making Eddie were Fargo, for performance, Lars and The Real Girl for production design, and Let the Right One In for its less-is-more approach to horror. I also thought a lot about Frankenstein in terms of the creature monster/relationship. I also looked at American Werewolf in London because I believe that was the first film that really pulled of horror-comedy in a smart and fun way.

Well, after such an impressive and original movie, what's next for you?

BR: I do want to do another dark/comedy horror at some point. I'm really amazed by how supportive the horror fan-base can be, and how much they appreciate risk-taking. I'm also working on a whacked out movie right now, a real genre-bender -- sci-fi with dance numbers -- that's all I'll say for now!

That's enough, though -- thanks! You've already more than piqued the interest of anyone who's seen Eddie.
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