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 weekend.
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 Faceless Man.
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 purpose was.
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.
Director: James Di Martino
Cast: Sophie Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee
Writer: James Di Martino