THE FACELESS MAN (2019)
Directed by James Di Martino
Written by James Di Martino
Starring Sophie Thurling, Lucas Pittaway, Andy McPhee, Roger Ward, Albert Goikhman, Brendan Bacon, Daniel Reader, Daniel Facciolo, Lorin Kauffeld, Martin Astifo, Sunny S. Walia, Tom Vogel, Dirk Faller, Damian Oehme, Dave Beamish, Maria Tevelis, Peter Flaherty, Leanne Campbell, Peter Spowart, Ellie Tevelis, Leslie Lawrence, Akal Demir
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THE FACELESS MAN is one of those films that is challenging to review. Part of me admires the sheer, balls-out craziness that is unleashed in the hour and forty minutes the film plays out. Then again, THE FACELESS MAN lifts a lot of its most interesting bits from other, better films.
This film loosely threads together the story of a young woman named Emily (Sophie Thurling) a cancer survivor who we meet in an excruciatingly long opening sequence set in a hospital where she meets her estranged father and chastises him for not being there when she needed him. Cut to three years later and Emily has become a party girl, whooping it up with her equally reckless friends. When one of her friends rents out a house for the weekend in the countryside, it sets off a series of events that involves a briefcase full of drugs, a gang of bikers, three trigger happy thugs, a serial killer, and a demon that seems to be a representation of Emily’s repressed emotions. All of these elements clash together with the grace and finesse of a game of Rock-em Sock-em Robots played by two ADHD-addled preschoolers.
There is a reckless and unhinged vibe to THE FACELESS MAN that I can’t help but admire. Filmmaker James Di Martino seems to have quite a few key scenes of action, gore, and mayhem in mind and isn’t afraid to barrel right over any subtlety, nuance, or logic to get to them. This literally is a film that feels as if it was made up as it went along and dammit if that kind of energy isn’t kind of attractive to me. The gore, violence, and sheer craziness really are at a level that I rarely see in film these days.
That said, this is kind of an incoherent mess of a movie that lifts quite blatantly from PULP FICTION, RESERVOIR DOGS, and SNATCH, by way of the story of the original CANDYMAN film. Literal scenes are copied beat for beat from those films. To be kind, this might be considered an homage, but honestly, because these scenes are so on the nose, I have to call a ripoff when I see it. There really is no transition from one scene of carnage to the next, and if you’re looking for any type of logic, other than the fact that the filmmaker is an obvious cinephile, then I suggest checking out another film.
But the biggest crime of THE FACELESS MAN is the fact that it is in desperate need of an edit. The opening scene isn’t the only one that desperately needs trimming. This film lingers and slugs along in between the nutzo stuff and a good half hour could have been trimmed off to make it more watchable.
This isn’t a film I can wholeheartedly recommend. I think there are some inspired scenes of ultra-violence and maybe a fun idea or two being mashed together, but the lack of transition between scenes, the lingering narrative, and the sheer fact that I’ve seen much of this film in better movies works against it. That said, in its rag-tag mish-mashed form, THE FACELESS MAN definitely is a unique horror film and you can’t say that about most horror these days.