Sometimes you get a really good idea and just cannot wait to get to it. You know you should spend time leading up to this glorious idea in the form of a climax, and so a long story comes about. Sometimes, this extended story cannot match the idea that spurred it. (Sorry, Lights Out.) With Fatal Pictures’ newest short, Heir, Richard Powell keeps the story short – but ultimately, packs more of a heavy punch in its 13-minute runtime than most 90-minute horror films are able to.
The film is an examination of child abuse, told through some gory (and disgusting) imagery. There’s some really incredible practical effects work to be seen here; through fantastic visual metaphors, Heir explores the absolute trauma that comes along with abuse and the monstrosities that inflict them. The very beginning of the short starts out with a vulgar display of queasiness – enough to nearly make one lose their lunch from the getgo. The best way to make a point is to make it through extremes. Sometimes, these extremes are found through gore. Here, these extremes are presented by, well, slime and tentacles. It’s not pretty; then again, abuse never is.
There is no thematic content within Powell’s movie that will make you feel pleasant, and still, it’s hard not to be impressed by the astounding practical effects. This is a movie that seems to have very little in the way of CGI, and instead, an abundance of practical ways of bringing a monster to life using real objects that exist in the natural world. I’ve been very against the use of most CGI for quite some time and Heir illustrates my distaste perfectly. I’ll keep it quick:
The overabundance of computer generated monsters and effects generally comes off as plastic and removed. The human touch seems to be removed with this style of moviemaking. Practical effects, on the other hand, are created with care and ingenuity. The most subtle touches can be appreciated. It is a hands-on approach that, if done successfully, creates a feeling of humanity in even the most alien of films. With such a personal and moving film as Heir, CGI would have killed the whole experience.
I don’t mean “moving” in the way of being “heartfelt” or “joyous”. Instead, the film moved me with a sense of grief and of loss. There is a feeling at the end of this short that something horrible has happened in all parties involved. These men are monsters; some embrace their monstrosities, and some try to push them away. In the end, it is a cycle of harm and deep sadness that allows acts like this to happen. There are not always happy endings. For some people, there is no silver lining.
It is this stark reality that we all must face at one point or another in our lives, and this powerful piece of hopelessness confronts us with this truth. Heir is deep, chilling, and something truly horrifying – it’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.