By: Addison Wylie
Horror masterminds Richard Powell and Zach Green will always pull the best performances out of character actor Robert Nolan. This has been the case with their vividly gruesome short films Worm and Familiar, and while their third collaboration HEIR may be their weakest entry, Nolan unstoppably beams as Gordon – a man suppressing a secret.
Powell is back in the director’s chair with HEIR, as well as holding the pen that writes the short’s seething screenplay. However, he’s also accepted a challenge by adding another cast member as a prominent role. That additional player is Bill Oberst Jr., whom has a very creepy presence the moment he enters the film as Gordon’s wayward pal, Denis. There’s nothing wrong with Oberst Jr.’s performance, and his on-screen magnetism with Nolan’s perfected unease holds the audience in suspense.
However, this sort of short solo show has always been Robert Nolan’s masterclass. Though Bill Oberst Jr. gives HEIR an extra kick of lurid eeriness, bringing in another person to do most of the talking downgrades Nolan to a silenced pushover in the shadows of someone who is only required to be a slow burn spook. Mind you, that may be the point since Denis – at times -may only be metaphysical; to reflect Gordon’s desires and regrets. But, thirteen minutes isn’t enough time for Powell to establish Denis, his overbearing nastiness, and the idea that he may (or may not) actually exist. I know Richard Powell and Zach Green have been building towards a feature film. Maybe now is the time for them to finally take that leap.
Heir does feature other key strengths that Powell and Green are always tremendous in bringing home to movie goers. The grisly and slimy practical effects have never been better, the cinematography is stirring, and a final showdown burns itself into our thoughts. I may not be over the moon for HEIR, but it still makes the grade.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie