RJ Bayley Reviews: Heir
I’ll hold my hands up and say I read both the director’s statement and the press release for writer/director Richard Powell’s Heir before watching the film itself. I explicitly knew what the film is supposed to be about before I even watched it. Having said that, it would soon become obvious what the short is a metaphor for and it carries it off well.
In very literal terms and just reading what is presented to us on the surface level, it presents us with a concept that’s intriguing even when you put its metaphor aside. It’s not so much the idea of some kind of slimy, tentacled entity finding symbiosis with a human host and trying to reproduce itself: it’s the lense of griminess, depression and setting in blue collar middle of nowhere America that sets it apart from other alien/host movies. A father in dismal surroundings with little to distract him from giving in to the monster inside is all the more believable because of it. The special effects are also commendably restrained while still remaining disgusting and gooey.
Speaking of giving in to the monster inside and gooiness, it’s when you scratch beneath the surface and understand this is a paedophile metaphor that the film becomes really disturbing. Heir shows who horror can visualise concepts that other genres would struggle to convey so viscerally. The difference between the two men, one desperately but unsuccessfully fighting that true monster within, versus the man who has embraced it, is effectively represented with special effects. It’s also no coincidence that the prosthetics on Bill Obert Jr.’s (Gordon) hand spurts out a viscous white liquid as his onscreen son is molested by Robert Nolan’s character, whose orgasm face is even more sickening in this context. Heir is affecting.