Here's How You Can Watch Robert Eggers' Early Short Short Film Adapting Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart

Robert Eggers' 2006 German expressionist horror short, "Hansel & Gretel," was recently released for fans to dive into. Now, Eggers' other short, "The Tell-Tale Heart," which is a 21-minute reinterpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's eponymous, anxiety-ridden short story, is now available for viewing, exclusively on IndieWire.

While Eggers follows a title card approach similar to "Hansel & Gretel," the Poe adaptation offers greater room for interpretation and reading between the lines, allowing Eggers to better express his directorial vision. And he does, as Eggers' "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a tense, visual portrait that highlights the best parts of Poe's short story, as leans into the tropes prevalent in Gothic fiction while introducing a unique style of his own.

Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" positions an unreliable narrative front and center: he's nameless, with little to no details revealed about the figure, except for his meticulous thought process prior to committing, what he believes to be, the perfect crime. Poe's narrator lives with a frail old man, who the former thinks possesses an "evil" vulture-like eye, which pushes him to the edge of paranoia, making him plan the old man's murder in a methodical manner. The short story ends on a strong note — the narrator's repeated insistence on his sanity, coupled with his hypersensitive nature crippled by guilt, makes for a compelling tale of manic anxiety and horror.

'An over-acuteness of the senses'

The reason why Poe's short story is so interesting to analyze is the way in which many details are deliberately omitted: we do not know what the narrator does, or what his relationship exactly is with the old man in question. Eggers offers his own interpretation, wherein the narrator (played to perfection by Carrington Vilmont) is a servant to the old man (voiced by Richard Easton), who is deathly pale and frail, requiring the narrator to take care of him around-the-clock.

Given how the old man offers no direct threat to the narrator — except for his eye, which visibly makes the narrator feel increasingly erratic — the nature of the crime feels more pointedly unjustified, and Eggers unfolds the tale with great skill. Interestingly, the old man is not played by an actor at all but is a prosthetic doll puppeteered to mimic micro-movements, which adds to the already strange, eerie atmosphere of the short.

Eggers spoke to IndieWire about his thoughts on the Poe short, which he is fairly "proud of," despite considering it "uneven:"

"I am pleased to share 'The Tell-Tale Heart.' It is an uneven film, but my first film that I was proud of making. It is also my first collaboration with my DP Jarin Blaschke and editor Lousie Ford, and we have worked together ever since, so it is an important film for all three of us. It is also my first collaboration with sound designer Damian Volpe...I am also particularly proud of the performance by Carrington Vilmont. I hope that audiences take note of him."

Check out the official synopsis for Eggers' short:

"Within the chambers of a desolate house, a solitary servant tends to his invalid master. Tangibly detailed period design and hauntingly lifelike puppetry unearth the dreamworld of Poe."

Eggers' "The Tell-Tale Heart" can be watched exclusively on IndieWire — you can view it here.