February 3, 2015

Movie Review: Faces (2014)

You have got to admit, when approaching a low to no budget horror movie, you have got to at least be a little bit scared. It is true that talent has to come from somewhere and also that talented individuals can shine with little around to pick up the slack. Still, there is so much junk out there that it might be a daunting task, one which will scare even the heartiest of cinema junkies away, or at the least, leave them twitching from one too many no-budget zombie farces. On the other hand, all it takes is one good movie to make it all worthwhile. Is Faces that one good movie? Perhaps...

I will be up front in that when I took a stab and bought the movie, I was at a convention and had the opportunity to have a conversation with writer/director/star Tom Ryan, as well as co-star Paul Gmitter. A couple very nice guys who were very high on what they created here. Of course, one would have to expect they would be excited about the movie they made. On the other hand, they both seemed very genuine about the project, excited but not trying to oversell it. They get the idea of making a movie with no money, instead, they focused on making interesting characters and tell an interesting story. I can honestly say they succeeded.

The movie centers on Frank Walker (Tom Ryan). He is out of work, doesn't have much money, has no girlfriend, poor social skills, perhaps drinks a little too much, and has a dark past. We meet him as he goes on what appears to be the latest in a string of disappointing job interviews. So, with the failed job in the rear view, he goes to the bar, has a few drinks and heads home. He is followed there by a fellow named Charlie (Paul Gmitter). What starts out as a couple guys drinking, quickly turns into Charlie challenging Frank on his life choices. Needless to say, this is not a good idea, and Frank whacks Charlie with a bottle, killing him.

What follows is a spiraling descent into madness for Frank. The story follows him as he tries to hold things together, but does not have all that much success. It is a tale that actually had me wanting Frank to get it together. It is clear that he is damaged and that we do not have access to all the facts that led him to this point, all we can do is watch as everything slips away into a blanket of insanity. You can even see Frank struggling with himself, trapped inside of his own mind, never able to escape to any sort of peace.

Faces tells a self destructive tale where the “good” guy is also the “bad” guy and vice versa. It is told not with effects, explosions, or gore, but in character development and performance. It is not the sort of movie that is going to escape its low budget roots, it never even tries to cover them up. Faces relishes its spot, it embraces the fact there is no money. In this respect, it is all about the characters, it lives and dies by them, and that means the writing needs to deliver.

It is no lie to say I was very impressed with Faces. I am not trying to blow smoke or oversell it, but it is a solid creation made by talented individuals doing what they can to make the best movie they can. The result is an involving character study that leaves some big pieces to the imagination as it shows the settling in of madness.

Faces is certainly a movie to sit down and spend some time with. Tom Ryan acquits himself well in multiple roles here (director, writer, and star). He makes Frank believable, someone to avoid, but also someone to sympathize. Paul Gmitter also does a good job in his first feature film. Simply put, I am glad I took a chance with Faces. Oh yes, I would be remiss if I did not mention the music, suitably creepy and fits the film perfectly.

No, it is not a perfect movie, what movie is? It is a little rough around the edges, but it is made with desire and energy and that goes a long way. Don't expect a downward spiral on the level of, say, Maniac, but you can certainly see where some inspiration was had. Get past the budget and you are good to go with a solid indie horror/thriller.

Highly Recommended.


The DVD can be purchased at the official Theatre of Terror site.

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