Science is forever a frightening thing in the world of horror. Every day, we’re learning new things. Studies are uncovering new pieces of information, new bits of that may change everything we’ve been doing or have known to that moment. But, beyond that, no one truly knows anything for a fact. We think we do. We believe even the most brilliant scientists across the globe have some idea of what’s what, but do they really? They’re operating on theories and hypotheses to the best of their knowledge, but they’re still very much guessing their way through a lot of things. How else do you explain conflicting studies that might say red wine is good for your heart one second and the next that it may cause damage to your arteries?
As a result, the potential for science to constantly turn on us exists. The basis for our knowledge is constantly shifting, allowing ample opportunities for science to work against rather than for us. As humans, we always feel like we should be doing something, anything to work towards progress or advancement that’ll help us live just a little bit longer. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all about finding a cure for AIDS or cancer or Parkinson’s or any other illness you want to point your finger at. But what’s the cost for this research? And I’m not speaking financially or about the cost of mice or monkeys that may suffer as a result for our “superior” race to take care of itself. But what if the cure for cancer led to the outbreak of something else? Would that be a price you’re willing to pay? It always goes back to the simple question of not whether or not we can do something, but whether or not we should.
A lot of those intelligent and debatable questions arise after a viewing of Eron Sheean’s feature film directorial debut ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY. At the heart of it is Dr. Geoff Burton (Michael Eklund), a molecular biologist who has committed his life to genetic research after losing his child to something named Burton’s Syndrome. Within a week, his son was dead due to this genetic mutation that covered his body in smothering tumors, and Geoff’s work is to ensure that no other family ever has to go through that experience themselves.
Soon after the loss of his child, the collapse of his wife followed, and having nothing left to lose, Geoff has taken a position at a new research in Dresden, Germany, in the hopes of forwarding his research. There he’ll be working with a former intern, who is now working on her own regeneration gene that, combined with Geoff’s discoveries, may be able to repair even severely damaged brain and spinal tissue. It’s just a matter of getting it to work in mammals that could make for a historic scientific breakthrough. But what is the cost of getting to such advancements? After all, people just want a cure – whether in a pill or a surgery or a procedure – but they want no knowledge of how we got there. ERRORS will show you the dark side of science when people become obsessed with finding those cures, with no regard for the consequences or the price they’ll have to pay for it.
Sheean manages to do something pretty incredible with his film as he juggles between drama, horror and science to create an intense story that keeps you on your toes guessing as to where it’s heading next. There’s a bit of a TWILIGHT ZONE feel to ERRORS as you watch the psychological breakdown of a scientist obsessed with finding the cure to not only his late son’s disease, but, on another level, the haunting experiences he went through as a result. Eklund portrays Geoff as a broken man on many levels, but he still has the drive to do what he thinks is necessary to find the results he’s looking to attain. The role calls for both his emotional and physical transformation, and Eklund takes on both with quiet vigor that it’s nearly impossible to get invested in his quest, even if it means watching a man become unhinged right in front of you.
Anthony Pateras’ score adds an eerie feel to the film, which, when combined with Sheean’s cold color palette, aids in building the tension of what lurks in this science lab that we may wish didn’t later. Eklund carries the film amidst some more archetypical characters, but it’s the identifiable trauma Geoff has endured that enables you to grasp onto his mission. He can be emotionally distant at times, but Sheean and Shane Danielsen’s script do more than enough to establish the reasoning behind it, preventing any gaps between the character and the audience from surfacing.
ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY manages to stay intelligent without being too smart. The shop talk of a lab feels on point without going over your head, and ERRORS never dumbs itself down to being the typical science-gone-bad thriller that we’ve come to expect from films like this. This is one that should hold your interest as you never can quite tell where it’s going to end up.
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