Friday, February 3, 2012

Salute Your Shorties: Near Dark's Homer

A decade before Kirsten Dunst was reanimated by a ponytailed Brad Pitt, the world met Joshua John Miller's sad and slightly foul-mouthed Homer.

We never learn the full story of Homer's vamping although obviously, it happened a few bites before puberty. Played by Joshua John Miller (son of Jason and little brother of Lost Boy Jason Patric), Homer is a monster, an evil, humanity-hunting killer with little sympathy for the necks he bites (one of them being surrogate sister Mae, whom he turned just after she graduated high school). You wouldn't want to buy the kid a coke in a roadhouse.

And don't you DARE mispronounce his name. No, I don't know how one mispronounces such a straightforward word myself but you can bet my solar deflecting overcoat I'm not about to find out.

On the other hand, what makes H-O-M-E-R such a lasting character is that he IS sympathetic. Like a teenage Frankenstein or vegetarian zombie, Homer shouldn't exist. As Antonio Banderas musically purrs in Interview With a Vampire, it's unnatural to turn someone so young, a supernatural crime that creates a physically forever preteen with an ever evolving mind. Remember when you were twelve? Life wasn't the worst it could get--I hold that eighth grade was made for such hyperbole--but you knew you were simply passing through a treacherous but thankfully temporary phase . You were SO CLOSE to being a grownup, to losing baby weight in a growth spurt that would make sense of your proportions. Your body was on its way to being whole.

Now imagine someone pressing pause.

Poor Homer. Even amongst his own kind, he can't ever REALLY find his place. Severen (the delectable Bill Paxton) treats him to all the pitfalls of being the youngest sibling, while Mae shifts her attention to the same-aged newbie Caleb.  It's no wonder that he'd want to create an equal in Sarah, a young human who could, if turned vampire, be the one and only creature to eventually understand what immortality at the wrong age means.

Of course (SPOILER ALERT) Homer never gets that chance although darnit if he doesn't die trying. Erupting in a pre-Buffy burst of flames, Homer chases his lost friend into the sunlight, screaming her name as he burns himself alive en route.

Now that's a way to go.

Credit certainly extends to Miller, just thirteen when filming this dense role. Perhaps the '80s best "little brother actor," Miller finds the perfect balance in bringing out the old frustrated soul dangerously lurking inside his misleading kid frame. He would go on to more iconic (at least by Doll's House standards) roles in the underlooked Class of 1999 and the glorious cheese that is Teen Witch, but it's Homer that made such a haunting stamp on genre cinema, and for his work, The Shortening raises an honorary glass of fresh squeezed neck juice from a little person stunt double on the set of a kids' film.

1 comment:

  1. This little feller was a pint size bundle of malevolence indeed. A worthy addition to the shortening.