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Grimmfest 2021 Film Feature - Faceless

Directed by: Marcel Sarmiento

Written by: Ed Dougherty, Marcel Sarmiento, Freddie Villacci

Starring: Alex Essoe, Brendan Sexton III, Terry Serpico, Cullen Moss



Synopsis: After a gruesome attack, George wakes up in a hospital room with total memory loss, the recipient of a full-face transplant. Plagued by flashbacks and uncertain what is real and what is imaginary, he struggles to recover his sense of self. But the only way he can find out who he is is to confront the demons that brought him to this place...

Grimmfest say: One of the wilder, weirder, more WTF films at this year's festival, this one truly defies easy categorisation. A baroque and bloody blend of classic noir tropes, bare-knuckled blackly-comic Bukowskian barroom romance, Michael Creighton style medical malpractice thriller, and Cronenbergian body horror, with unexpected, oneiric Lynchian flourishes and a title borrowed from one of Jess Franco's more notorious shockers, it's a jolting, jarring, genre-hopping, utterly unique experience, a plate-spinning exercise in startling tonal shifts and discomforting narrative developments, all the more unsettling due to the generally understated approach, and the nuanced, naturalistic performances of Brendan Sexton III and Grimmfest favourite Alex Essoe (STARRY EYES, HOMEWRECKER), which ground the ever more fast and furious twists and increasingly bizarre and grotesque events in a recognisable human reality – kind of – right up to their queasy and uneasy final confrontation. We guarantee you've never seen anything quite like it.

What I'm expecting: Judging by the official synopsis and Grimmfest's thoughts on the film, I'm expecting Faceless to take on an element of heavy psychological horror, jumping between reality and delusion as it explores the mind of a man suffering from severe trauma. Hopefully, the movie can keep on track and not lose focus, which is always the worry with films of this making. The mention of "Cronenbergian body horror" and "medical malpractice" bring obvious comparisons to Cronenberg classic, Rabid. Which is in no way a bad thing. My main concern here is Faceless devolving into a gross-out mess of a film in an attempt to honour the splatter movies of the late 70s early 80s (like Rabid). I'm a massive fan of splatter horror. Still, there's a right and wrong way to replicate this iconic cinematic era, and throwing a variety of bodily fluids at the audience to elicit a reaction – as so many seem to do – isn't the correct way. However, words like "nuanced", "naturalistic", and "understated" are promising signs that Ed Dougherty, Marcel Sarmiento and Freddie Villacci understand these issues and haven't fallen into the same trap that so many others have. I'm very optimistic about this film, and can't wait to see it.



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