Errors of the Human Body, the latest from writer/director Eron Sheean, proposes a story that is really more concept than true story. From its dry, thesis paper title to its anti-climax of an ending, Errors of the Human Body prides itself in its disassociation from a tangible A to B storyline in favor of something more clinical in its examination of the characters in the film. While there is a storyline, it takes a noticeable backseat to physiological and psychological experience of the protagonist.
That storyline involves a renowned geneticist, Geoff (Michael Eklund), who finds himself at a cutting edge laboratory in Germany joining in on the research of the “Easter gene” within lies the ability of regeneration. This is especially pertinent to our protagonist as his newborn son died of a rare genetic disease that consequently destroyed his marriage and, by extension, his life. These facts are the foundation the film is built upon, but doesn’t encapsulate what the film is about. Instead of a tense thriller about unethical scientific practices, Errors of the Human Body hazily moves through its running time with abstract dream sequences, costume parties, and the requisite human mutations.
There is no question that this plotted out meandering allows the film to escape from the normal narrative reins of this kind of plot. The question, then, is this meandering a good idea? When a film meanders it risks becoming completely lost, floating from landscape to landscape with no real purpose. While Errors of the Human Body cannot be accused with complete lost confusion, it can be seen taking some unintentional wrong turns on its way to its conclusion. But like that proverbial dad on that proverbial road trip, the film never admits that it doesn’t quite know where it is. And to be fair, it does end up in a place that makes you believe it ended up where it intended, wrong turns and all.
At its core, the film seems most interested with the complex notion that our quest to cure our own weaknesses and sickness is often sabotaged by those very same weaknesses and sickness. In Errors of the Human Body, the cure wouldn’t be needed without the sickness, but the sickness might not exist without the compulsion to seek a cure. Our own humanity, stuck in a self-defeating loop, is both the cause and the cure for our sickness.
By the end of Errors of the Human Body, things have taken a tragic and disturbing turn that underlines the above conceit. The emotion of that discovery though, is muted and distanced from the audience. To call the climax understated would be, well, an understatement. The characters are left to ruminate a very emotional and human moment in the most cold and clinical environment one could imagine. That same description could be applied to the entire running time of Errors. All emotion seems to be exuded during the abstract and dream-sequence scenes, leaving the moments of everyday life noticeably bland and clinical.
This clinical approach keeps Errors of the Human Mind distance from any emotional engagement the audience may be searching for. It does, however, allow for Eron’s Sheean major thematic approach to shine through. It is in the eye of the beholder, then, if Sheean’s cold thematic approach is enough to move Errors of the Human Body from an exercise in Cronenberg visuals into a successful film.