Australian Horror can be hit or miss. On one hand you have
hits like Killing Ground, The Babadook, Wolf Creek, and The Loved
Ones. On the other you have the misses like Needle, Roadkill, and the
2009 Natalie Bassingthwaithe starrer, Prey.
Unfortunately, The Faceless Man ends up with the
misses – although, it does show promise.
The Faceless Man focuses on cancer survivor Emily
(Sophie Thurling) and her friends as they head to a secluded holiday home in
regional Australia. While on their trip, they find themselves terrorized by
several groups of people and a paranormal entity that haunts them throughout
The film opens with Emily facing her alcoholic father,
Harrison (Brendan Bacon), a man who has been absent from her life. The opening
is great, and I really enjoyed this scene, it made me feel for Emily, with
Thurling’s performance lifting the scene even more. She was emotionally
distraught at her father’s appearance and Bacon, as Emily’s father, was also
decent in the role.
The film continues on with some great scenes, notably, a
rave, and an awkward, but funny holiday house tour by Aussie screen regular
Andy McPhee. They were well written and well directed by Writer/Director James
Di Martino, but, unfortunately, it goes downhill shortly after.
I was on the hook with the beginning, kicking off as an
eerie, drug fuelled odyssey filled with hallucinations, but unfortunately it wraps
up in a mess, one that seemed to have no idea what to do with its protagonist, The
While there are bad guys aplenty, almost all of them interesting,
fun and unusual – and well worth exploring further – The Faceless Man,
was an absolute waste. If he wasn’t a part of it, the film would have been much
better off. This titular character appears at seemingly random moments to
terrorise Emily and her friends, but it really amounted nothing – one of the
characters is ‘molested’ by The
Faceless Man but the moment has no bearing on the character whatsoever,
they don’t talk about it it’s quickly forgotten, with it having no effect on
the characters actions.
I’m not even sure what The Faceless Man was. A
manifestation of Emily’s dad issues? A certain scene suggests otherwise. Maybe
it’s a paranormal entity tied to the very fabric of the holiday house that
supposedly drove the previous occupant mad. Again, a certain scene suggests
otherwise. It was frustrating, as I wanted an answer to what The Faceless Mans
One redeeming quality was the use of opera music to
introduce some of the antagonists. It was loud and abrupt and really drew your
attention to the character. A good decision by music supervisor Bart Walus.
As previously mentioned, co-star Andy McPhee as Eddie was
great fun to watch, think a loveable Aussie larrakin crossed with Mick ‘Wolf
Creek’ Taylor. Daniel Reader as Barry ‘the problem solver’ was also fun to
watch. It wasn’t that he gave a wonderfully believable performance, he just had
some fun with the role, and it made it the film more enjoyable. Lucas Pittaway
of Snowtown fame played Kyle, Emily’s
wannabe boyfriend. I have to say, I thought Snowtown,
as much as it was critically acclaimed, was terrible, with no redeeming
qualities other than actor Daniel Henshall, who’s come a long way since then.
But in The Faceless Man, Pittaway does well, and as a quiet achiever, he
pulls of the stuck-in-the-friend-zone role with ease. Lastly lead actress
Sophie Thurling also does well, with her best scenes come at the beginning of
the film where she emotionally confronts her absentee dad.
Credit where credit is due though, James Di Martino, got the
film made by crowdfunding the project, producing through his own production
company Chapter 5 Studios. While the script and concept were shaky, it did have
promise. I just really felt that the lack of explanation of The Faceless Man
let the film down. The rest of the antagonists were fun and scary, terrorising
Emily and her friends well enough without some kind of mysterious fear inducing
entity. While this one ends up on my miss list, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out
for future Di Martino releases.
Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee
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