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Emily is a recovering cancer survivor of three years. Faced with her fear of getting sick again, her best friend Nina plans a weekend away. Six friends venture out to a country holiday house to party over a weekend. Cut off from the rest of the world they soon learn the inhabitants are unsettling red neck individuals who terrorize and humiliate travelers. At the same time a para-normal monster seen as the faceless man haunts the house pushing the friends to their limits.
Filmed in and around Melbourne, The Faceless Man is an Ozploitation genre mash-up from the mind of debut feature film director James Di Martino, that sees horror embodied in a horrifying new way thanks to its titular creation, that was born out of the director's own personal experience dealing with cancer, ensuring The Faceless Man is more than just a simple gore-filled black comedy.
It's not to say there's not humour, claret and oddball characters to be found here, as The Faceless Man's inspiration from films such as The Evil Dead and Get Out is apparent throughout (plus a lovingly staged nod to Reservoir Dogs interrogation scene) but Di Martino's film has more beneath the surface that makes it a far more enjoyable ride in the long run, as this crazed creation takes us on a wild journey to the fictional town of Orange Lodge.
Centred around a group of friends drug-fuelled trip to the seemingly rural and relaxing Orange Lodge, that quickly showcases itself as a town overtaken by a bunch of bloodthirsty and far from normal residents, that are led by Roger Ward's King Dougie, The Faceless Man follows familiar genre tropes but also works hard to subvert expectations, as Sophie Thurling's cancer survivor Emily Beckman not only deals with angry crime bosses and upset locals, but fear incarnate in the form of the gruesome looking Faceless Man.
A monstrous and wonderfully crafted creation that is one of the most memorable "big bads" created in an Australian film in some time, Di Martino uses the Faceless Man sparingly but effectively as he begins to torment Emily and her friends as their fears come to life in horrifying and spine chilling ways.
There's nothing overly subtle here as the film is more than willing to confront the beast that is cancer head on, while also lopping heads and introducing us to characters such as Barry the ***(very naughty word) in what's an eclectic array of themes, subjects and ideas and while it doesn't always gel in the most efficient of ways, when The Faceless Man expertly combines its mixing of the surreal with the darkly comic and confronting, it showcases a filmmaker in the form of Di Martino who has here showed himself to be a director unafraid to take risks and do things his own way.
Di Martino is also ably supported by his game cast of Australian acting staples such as Ward (a member of the original Mad Max), Snowtown breakout star Lucas Pittaway and Andy Mcphee as inappropriate joker Eddie Silver Beard, headlining a jam-packed cast list that features a great collection of up and comers and long serving veterans, ensuring that The Faceless Man is a step above its other independent counterparts that often feel rough and unrefined in comparison.
It's truly a journey unlike any other, a local offering that feels born entirely out of the energy and determination of its filmmaker and while there's a lot to be desired in a refinement sense, you can't help but have a great time on The Faceless Man's wild 90 or so minute journey.
Final Say -
Sure to please gorehounds and fans of pitch black horror comedy, The Faceless Man is a memorable debut from Di Martino and one of 2019's most unique Australian offerings.
3 cups of coffee out of 5
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