By Brett Mullins
Eraserhead is a interpretative cult horror film and the debut production of director David Lynch.
Henry (Jack Nance) is a simple man that lives in futuristic industrial world, where machines are constantly grumbling. He receives an invitation to have dinner with, what appears to be, a lover from the past. When he arrives at the rather curious house (though dwelling would be more appropriate), he is introduced, by his ladyfriend Mary, to her strange and slightly dysfunctional family. Amid the spectacle of dinner, Mary’s mother pulls Henry aside to reveal that he’s the father of Mary’s child, which resembles some sort of deformed mutant due to a premature birth. Henry attempts to cope with his hateful wife and mutant child while an assortment of strange events occur around him.
This film is, easily, one of the most confusing tales ever produced. Unlike many other interpretative cult films, Eraserhead is not enjoyable to watch nor are the majority of interpretations even slightly interesting. Nowhere in the review will it say that ambiguity is not a characteristic of a well made film, because that’s just not true; however, there is a line to be drawn. While this is variable from film to film, director David Lynch has stated that, several decades after the release of the film, he has yet to hear an interpretation that matches his own. This length in time is quite over the line, which should go without saying.
The film features very little dialogue with much of the film emitting either the cries of a deformed infant or the continuous rumbling of the industrial world. The lack of dialogue increases the bearing of what the audience hears and allows the audience to use their imagination to explain many of the scenes.
Any way one slices the film’s meaning, it will difficult to ignore the few, yet powerful, disturbing scenes in the film. After its introduction, Henry’s child, so to say, slowly creeps up on the audience and becomes progressively horrifying. There is one dream sequence, in particular, where Henry is decapitated with his head falling to the dirt covered street. A child snatches it up and takes it to a building where it is drilled into to produce erasers. The head on Henry’s body is then replaced with that of his deformed child.
Irrespective of the meaning the audience is able to derive, Eraserhead is a boring unenjoyable film that clearly deserves the tagging: ‘experimental’.