I have a confession to make. I absolutely love the films of David Lynch and I only recently watched Eraserhead for the first time. It’s Lynch’s first full-length feature and probably his most infamous film. It is, hands down, the weirdest movie I have ever seen. You ever have an especially frightening nightmare, you know, one that you wake up from in a cold sweat with your arms and legs tingling? The images are vivid at first but within minutes all you can remember are bits and pieces--little shards of pictures and feelings of dread. This movie captures that experience perfectly and makes you feel as if you are watching someone else’s fever dream unfold. It’s bizarre, unsettling and completely mesmerizing.
The narrative (I hesitate to use the word “story” since nothing seems connected) follows the misadventures of puffy-haired man named Henry Spencer and his kooky interactions with people around him. Everything is surreal and nothing ever happens the way you expect it would. It’s filmed in black and white which makes everything seem even creepier and off-putting, especially because there are strange things lurking in the shadows. It is interesting to see the beginnings of David Lynch’s tropes, such as his pervasive sexual undertones and moments of dry humor. The most standout feature has to be the sound design—it’s ingenious. There is always some sort of white noise in the background which is occasionally punctuated by cacophonous industrial-type noises. It makes you feel uneasy the entire duration of the film.
Reviewing a film like this can be hard, mainly, because if something is weird, does that necessarily mean it’s good? This film is definitely on the artsy side and some people would probably write it off as pretentious, but I don’t see it that way. I like to be challenged every once in awhile by a movie and I don’t get upset if I don’t completely understand it by the end. Maybe some movies aren’t meant to be understood, but just picked up and admired like an oddity in an antique store. If you are in the mood to let something take you for a crazy ride, Eraserhead might just be up your alley.
- Review by Michelle Kisner