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[FrightFest 2023] FILM REVIEW: Faceless After Dark

Faceless After Dark - FrightFest World Premiere

Director: Raymond Wood

Starring: Jenna Kanell, Danny Kang, Danielle Lynn, Michael Aaron Milligan

Written by: Jenna Kanell, Todd Jacobs

Produced by: Raymond Wood

Cinematography by: Randall Blizzard

Original Score by: Greg Levitt


Following her breakout success in a killer clown horror flick, Bowie finds herself held hostage by an unhinged fan determined to recreate the film's fatal plot.


Horror fans are some of the best fans in the world; loyal, loving and welcome, there’s nothing like getting down and dirty and talking shop with a bunch of horror nerds. Like any fan base though, you’re always going to get a few bad apples, from both sides, the fans and the creators. People can be jerks, especially when it comes to disrespectful fans creeping on female actors from their favourite franchises. Jenna Kanell has been the star of two 'Terrifier' films and does a lot of horror convention appearances, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s had some bad experiences with fans. Jenna is the star and writer of 'Faceless After Dark', which is based around a young actress who stars in a low budget Clown horror film and is constantly harassed by perverted fans. Sounds like she’s drawing from some of her own experiences, right?

The odd thing about 'Faceless After Dark' is that it's true plot isn’t quite what you think. Mild-Spoilers from here on out because it’s honestly impossible to talk about this certain elephant in the room. So, Jenna Kanell plays Bowie, an horror actress who’s had success being a final girl but wants more in life. She wants more roles, she wants to make her own films and she wants to be as successful as her actress girlfriend. When her girlfriend leaves for London to star in a major superhero film, Bowie goes on a drunken bender. It isn’t long before this pity party is interrupted by a crazed fan breaking into the house and trying to kill Bowie. She puts up a fight and stops the stalker but instead of calling the police, she takes justice into her own hands and kills the man in cold blood. An interesting twist, for sure, but the movie goes in a direction from here that I really didn’t enjoy.

Bowie then goes on a crusade killing other men that have harassed her in her DM’s. I can understand the angle they’re going for here. It almost feels like they watched 2019’s 'Joker' and thought “We’ll do that but for women.” When the story took this turn, I was overcome with an unbearing weight of cringe. Jenna Kanell is a good actress; I've enjoyed her before in the 'Terrifier' films, but my god this character is insufferable. She’s just not that interesting to watch perform such an unhinged character. Playing crazy is like playing drunk, it’s very hard to get right on screen and it’s the small ticks in a performance that set it apart from everyone else. I also don’t think the script is strong enough to support this “crazy character”. The set ups to each kill are “creep gets fooled into coming to the house, creep gets drugged/hit around the head, creep gets lectured at then killed.” This happens 4 times. The same thing over and over again. The worst thing about it is that Bowie’s character is so unlikeable that you’re hoping that she gets killed. Not a great thing to think about your main protagonist.

Director Raymond Wood also drops the ball here with this film, delivering uninspiring fight scenes and a lack of energy that makes the pacing slog. Every time Bowie hits someone, it cuts to red, and we sometimes get some frantic editing of some stock footage to show how “crazy” Bowie is. It’s an absolute eye sore and made the whole project feel like a student film. 90% of the film takes place in a house, and whenever we leave the house, the film gets some life. Unfortunately, these scenes only last a few minutes before we are dragged back to the dullness of the house again. One thing I noticed was a lack of blood in the film; I’m not asking for buckets of blood, but when someone gets their neck cut or hands chopped off, I expect more than just a little spritz.

'Faceless After Dark' is a complete misfire on all parts. Terribly written, badly directed and a main performance that made me want to die from the levels of cringe that were being delivered. It’s a real shame because from the beginning, it’s not a bad premise. If these film makers wanted to make their own 'Joker' then it’s time to get off stage because you’re bombing horrendously.

Verdict: ⭐️

- Adam Neeson

'Faceless After Dark' received its World Premiere at FrightFest '23 on August 25th

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