How does one deal with the perversion of nature that resides within? That hidden urge that bubbles beneath the surface and the subsequent denial it creates. This is the very thing that the short film Heir sets out to explore.
Gordon (Robert Nolan) is afflicted and conflicted. He hides a secret that manifests itself physically, and urges that are difficult to deny. Taking his son, Paul (Mateo D’Avino), on a road trip to visit a supposed old college friend named Denis (Bill Oberst Jr.), we learn that Gordon has agreed to an unspeakable act. One that Denis not only wholeheartedly embraces, but also threatens to impact the unknowing Paul. Soon Gordon finds himself with a tough decision to make. He must choose between his nature and doing what is right before it’s too late.
One word describes Heir: disturbing. I was disturbed by an implied moment of pedophilia, disturbed by Gordon’s weak will, and disturbed by the character of Denis. This is not to say the film is bad. On the contrary, it is so well-done that it’s guaranteed to make viewers uncomfortable by the power of suggestion.
The actors successfully convey the struggles of suppressing the monster within. Nolan is a fixture in Canadian indie horror with parts in Berkshire County, Silent Retreat, and the TV series Paranormal Witness, and once again proves why here. He is a chameleon, confidently conveying Gordon’s conflict, desire and denial in a chilling way. Oberst Jr., an award-winning indie horror favourite, plays Denis with skin crawling menace. A perfect example of this comes when Denis is mocking Gordon’s attempt at normalcy, the level of contempt Oberst Jr. exudes is palatable. Top the performances off with some gruesome special effects by Canadian effects studio The Butcher Shop, and you have a rather compact creature feature.
By the end of Heir, it becomes clear that writer and director Richard Powell has created a unique commentary on a dark disorder. Will nature outweigh nurture? Can good prevail even in the darkest of places? These are tough questions that Powell leaves up to the audience to answer.