[Fantasia 2022 Short Film Review] FACIES (El Semblante)

[Fantasia 2022 Short Film Review] FACIES (El Semblante)
Still from FACIES (El Semblante)
The torture devices of the Spanish Inquisition are the stuff of legends. They were used frequently to extract confessions but, given the design and the brutal impact of the devices on the human body, it could be argued sadism was the true purpose. We see this brutality and horror depicted in Raúl Cerezo‘s and Carlos Moriana’s short film, FACIES (El Semblante), and the short leaves a chilling impact on the viewer.

The short takes place in Spain circa 1692. At this point in history, the Holy Inquisition is floundering and is desperately seeking ways to maintain control and power. Science and religion are colliding more so now than ever. This paints a target on the backs of many, especially women. These elements facilitate a driving need for torture, and the inquisitor (Carlos Santos) featured in the short has a slightly different agenda entirely. He seeks to capture the true essence of pain and blackmails the master torturer (Daniel Ortiz) to construct three visages in the hopes that he can capture it properly. Unfortunately, for both, the master torturer’s daughter Elena (Lucía Díez) will disrupt everything.

The long wait to bring the world of FACIES (El Semblante) to screen paid off. The filmmakers have perfectly transported us back into the world of the Inquisition. The torture device depicted in the short, at first glance, seems simple. But with growing horror, the audience will learn its true power. This also results in the final minutes of the short delivering a chilling effect that will radiate as the end credits roll.

From a performance standpoint, all involved deliver with gusto. Carlos Santos is positively terrifying. He perfectly depicts the undercurrent of sadistic pleasure his inquisitor luxuriates in. Daniel Ortiz is the reluctant torturer. Complicit in what the Church desires, his levels are subtle yet effective. In a world where no one is spared under the Church’s eye, his character is the relatable lure to keep us tethered in. Lucía Díez has less screen time, but her character delivers a strong impact.

There is a reason why FACIES (El Semblante) is garnering so much praise. It’s a solid, strong short. There are no creatures here stalking people in the dead of the night. No supernatural happenings. The real monsters are human beings who seek pain and suffering over all other things. And, when you compare it to all the things happening in the world today, you’ll realize nothing has changed.

FACIES (El Semblante) played as a part of the 2022 Fantasia International Film Festival.

El Semblante (Facies) | Official Trailer HD | Eye Slice (2022) from Eye Slice Pictures on Vimeo.

Sarah Musnicky
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