Faceless After Dark Image

Faceless After Dark

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | June 6, 2024

NOW ON VOD! If Robert Altman had made a horror movie, he would have prayed it would end up as flat-out brilliant as the blood-spilling meta-marvel Faceless After Dark, directed by Raymond Wood and written by Todd Jacobs and Jenna Kanell. In real life, Kanell is an actress based in Atlanta, GA, who played the final girl fighting a homicidal clown in mega-hit The Terrifier. In this film, Kanell stars as Bowie, an actress based in the same city who played the final girl in a movie about a homicidal clown. She scrapes by on the horror convention circuit, walking the autograph mile, while her girlfriend Jessica (Danielle Lyn) is launching from a successful series into the superhero world.

Bowie looks after Jessica’s swank place while she’s overseas filming. Meanwhile, her lifelong director pal Ryan (Danny Kang) sadly informs Bowie that the role he developed for her was being taken by a “name.” Disappointment adds to the boiling pressure from having to keep up with her social media followers. Bowie decides to screw it all and cranks up the stereo. She then gets blackout drunk. Meanwhile, a menacing figure in a clown mask (Max Calder) is circling the house. He then walks inside with his huge knife.

If horror movies are the punk rock of cinema, then Faceless After Dark signals a riot grrl revolution. We simply don’t have scripts as smart as this roll through horror’s neighborhood. The screenplay sports plutonium-grade industry dirt that we have not seen since The Player. That it illuminates the unseen world of micro-cinema toil is an extra venomous treat. It’s impossible not to attribute much of this to Kanell. The autobiographical skeleton reflects her experience like polished chrome. The content is delivered with snap and will make you feel like an industry insider in no time, which is delicious in that rarified The Larry Sanders Show way. Any fan of The Terrifier series is going to lap this up like a vampiric black cat with a saucer of bloody cream. I also love the pace of the storytelling, with fantastic montages of social media atrocity to show the inner snowstorms being suffered. The sudden veering into dark tunnels previously untraveled is a skin-crawling delight.

“…a menacing figure in a clown mask is circling the house.”

On top of that, the film looks like a $100-million production. To get an indie film to look this good, either many talented professionals were lending their skills after-hours, or the production simply printed its own money. The neon nerve-system lighting is beyond beautiful; it is the kind of lighting every single production ever made should have moving forward.

The only aspect that keeps this from achieving a usually unattainable perfect score is a momentary lapse in the third act. Here, we find a patch of suspense of the same ilk found in Hitchcock’s last movie, Frenzy. For the ironclad buffs out there, I am referring to the truck scene. It didn’t quite work there, and that’s bloody Hitchcock. The sequence here dilutes something that is otherwise as strong as adrenaline moonshine. But how many movies out there fly so high that the Hitchcock allusions drag them down?

There are unbelievably brave moves made out of nowhere. There’s an incredible sequence of a full-face meltdown that, as it draws out, hits me with the same force that Possession did. This is the kind of work that could make horror recognized as high art. Faceless After Dark will light up your brain while it tears your guts out.

Faceless After Dark (2024)

Directed: Raymond Wood

Written: Todd Jacobs, Jenna Kanell

Starring: Jenna Kanell, Danielle Lyn, Danny Kang, Max Calder, Catherine Corcoran, Kathrine Barnes, etc.

Movie score: 9.5/10

Faceless After Dark Image

"…plutonium grade film industry dirt "

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