Written and directed by James Di Martino, six friends venture out to a country house to party over a weekend, cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling redneck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travellers. At the same time, a paranormal monster known as the faceless man haunts the house and pushes the friends to their limits. Starring: Sophie Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon, Daniel Reader, Daniel Facciolo, Lorin Kauffeld, Martin Astifo, Sunny S. Walia and Tom Vogel.
You can’t go wrong with redneck locals terrifying young people when it comes to horror films, as a ridiculous number of them can attest, they have that very instinctive savagery disguised as community spirit which leads to any number of violent possibilities. Having a monster that inhabits, murders or psychologically terrorises your characters is another very strong road to take, but this film doubles down with both of them. There holds the film’s greatest problem, it doesn’t have a singular focus which takes away from the pace and progress of its story, the angry locals feel like a central plot to the film yet the faceless monster feels more incidental, the two of them together create a fractured story. The issue is that you don’t need both of them, despite being the titular character, the faceless man could actually be entirely removed from the story and it would still work, making him unfortunately extraneous. Those factors then result in something that feels unsure or confused, without a natural flow to the story it ends up non-committal and disjointed.
Setting out, this film fits the classic type of Aussie comedy horrors, a country that is particularly good at putting out that particular genre, whether it’s the accent or their sunny disposition juxtaposed against violence and gore, whatever it may be, it works very well. It begins with the typical tongue in cheek sense of humour, not taking itself too seriously and embracing the silly side of things while throwing a little gore, drama and blood at you. It hits all the notes that it needed to carry throughout to make a successful story but somewhere after the first half an hour or so, they begin to get lost when the film overstretches itself and changes direction in a rather abrupt manner.
The acting is hit and miss, there are some actors which are simply a little wooden which isn’t unusual for a film like this but then there are others that go entirely over the top. The style of the film takes from a lot of others that have come before it, again it starts out hitting the right notes but at a certain point it starts to feel like it’s almost imitating other films and television. The writing has a number of issues, particularly as mentioned that the film stretches itself too thin, it tries to do too much and simply ends up taking away from what it built. The choice to make its leading character be a cancer survivor feels unnecessary, it does eventually in the final moments rear its head as to why it was included but it isn’t enough and could have easily been changed to something less exploitative. The film also has a very strange relationship with sex, using outright rape and consensual sex that’s framed as rape, and many awkward group sex jokes that are a little too repetitive, again its something that feels unnecessary.
The Faceless Man unfortunately can’t seem to commit to one story, its focus is too fractured for it to create the tension and suspense needed to pull off this story. There are certainly good intentions and its opening shows that it had a great concept but Di Martino needed to scale back slightly to give stronger attention to the key aspects of the story to keep you gripped. The different elements of the film clash with one another resulting in something disjointed and disconnected, they tried to do too much instead of embracing the darkly comedic tone that it started out with.