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Review: Richard Powell’s HEIR

Official One SheetSocial media is a powerful marketing tool, that’s basically how I came across this short film, HEIR. Someone, somewhere was plugging it on Twitter… hard, and I had no choice but to take notice. I wasn’t exactly sure if HEIR was going to be my cup of tea based on what I was seeing, but when a representative from Fatal Pictures contacted me about reviewing the fourteen minute movie, I jumped at the chance to see what all of the online hype was about. A Boston Underground Film Festival Winner… A Fright Meter Award and Rondo Hatton Award Nominee… Here’s my thoughts having watched this much talked about title last night.

HEIR is written and directed by Richard Powell. It was produced by Zach Green and features cinematography from Michael Jari Davidson and special effects from The Butcher Shop. Cast members include Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, Circus of the Dead), Robert Nolan (“Paranormal Witness,” Sick: Survive the Night) and Mateo D’Avino with appearances from Jane Pokou and Justin Major. A collaboration between Fatal Pictures and Red Sneakers Media, HEIR follows Gordon (Nolan) and his son (Mateo) on an ill fated road trip in which Gordon indulges in a secret passion.

From here it’s actually pretty difficult to continue my review. I think the first thing I’d like to get across in terms of HEIR is that it’s insanely creepy and unsettling with its subtle use of pedophilia. It never comes outright and says “hey, this film is about child touchers,” but it conveys this in a variety of ways. Sure, the beginning is straightforward – with Gordon speaking to another man online about giving him his teen son – but the other ways are pretty metaphorical. I mean, look at the one sheet above with a hairy palm, a fabled effect of too much masturbation. The story becomes increasingly uncomfortable and stomach turning as it progresses and things start to happen to the child. Again, HEIR never comes outright and shows the son being molested, but he is grazed in a pretty bizarre fashion. Plus, not that pedophilia is ever not creepy, Bill Oberst Jr.’s performance here definitely adds a layer of sadism I didn’t think was possible. He plays a character who is so calm, so self-assured as he’s about to commit one of the worst crimes imaginable. Not that Oberst ever gives a performance that’s anything less than great, but this is probably one of his best performances as he just… really ups the ante in terms of making you want to vomit.

The horror genre elements come in forms that are more related to the science fiction genre, but I don’t want to give any of that information away as it is so important to the story-line. I will say, though, that it’s gross and mysterious and will leave you wanting more. I will say… that the horror/scifi elements are other worldly and dangerous and they’re mentally scarring even if you aren’t coming in direct contact with them. The special effects are across the board in terms of use and blood isn’t the only thing being spilled in HEIR. It’s actually hard for me to summarize these portions in my review because, to be honest, I’m not quite sure I understand what was happening on screen. The generalized plot of man meets other man to hand over son is horrific in itself, but I can see viewers getting lost when examining this short film any other way. I’d rather not reach out to the writer/director for clarification because maybe that’s how HEIR is supposed to come across. A sinister, unsettling, dark science fiction tale that leaves its interpretation open for discussion.

This is really its only flaw. It’s well acted, well written and shot professionally, but it’s a little too mysterious for my liking. However, I can see how it won an award for “Most Effectively Offensive.” Final Score: 7 out of 10.

H2

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)