Just when you thought slapping each other in the face was just a game that drunk Russian men played at parties, here comes SLAPFACE. Newly added to Shudder, SLAPFACE is an indie film that will sneak up on you. Is it supernatural? Is it mental? Is it all of the above? The premise sounded interesting, so I figured that I would give it a try and see what it was all about.
SLAPFACE was written and directed by Jeremiah Kipp. It follows the story of Lucas (August Maturo) and his brother Tom (Mike Manning). After their mother died, they are left alone in a run-down house in the woods outside of town. Tom is left to try and take care of loner Lucas. Lucas doesn’t have any friends and the people he hangs out with are the bitchy twins Donna (Bianca D’Ambrosio) and Rose (Chiara D’Ambrosio), who bully him incessantly. Although tagging along with the twins is Moriah (Mirabelle Lee), Lucas’s secret girlfriend who treats him like shit around the twins so she can fit in. Tom gets himself a little girlfriend of his own in Anna (Libe Barer), who sees Lucas and Tom’s situation and genuinely worries about Lucas. She seems to be the only one. Tom is struggling and the town’s sheriff (Dan Hedaya) sees Lucas as a trouble maker.
One day, the twins dare Lucas to go into an old building where a witch is rumored to live. He pretends to be afraid, but when he comes across the actual witch, he wakes up in the woods with no recollection as to how he left the building. Lucas and Tom have this game they play called Slapface where they literally just slap each other as hard as they can. Tom says it’s a release for both of them, but Anna isn’t convinced. When Lucas makes a friendship with the witch, she seems to take care of him, but then the killings begin and she becomes out of control.
Aside from Anna, there really aren’t any likable characters in the entire movie and you just get a knot in your gut for Lucas. It’s like the poor kid never even had a chance. Lucas himself seems so devoid of feelings, it makes you wonder what’s even real in the film. That question will never go away and will never be answered. While SLAPFACE ended leaving me with more questions than answers, the movie still somehow pulls it off.
The cinematography is simple but effective with great environments and lighting. Even though we see the witch and it is similar to that of a Halloween fright mask, because of the concept and story, the weird makeup FX doesn’t take away from the emotions of the story. Maturo did an incredible job as Lucas, showing emotional flexibility as someone devoid of fear and feelings to a face full of tears. The ending is powerful (albeit confusing) and that’s all due to Maturo.
Overall, while SLAPFACE isn’t an incredible psychological horror film, it isn’t a bad way to spend an hour and a half of your time. It may leave you with some unanswered questions, but the confusion can’t outweigh the pull of curiosity as to who the witch is and what is happening to these boys in the woods.
SLAPFACE is now available for viewing on Shudder.