Jeremiah Kipp (director)
February 03, 2022 (published)
February 03, 2022
Tom and Lucas have been on their own since the death of their parents in a car accident. Tom takes a job eventually making ends meet and frequents the bar where he meets Anna (Libe Barer) who almost immediately falls into his bed and residence.
Meanwhile, Lucas seems to be getting almost wild with the local sheriff warning Tom about his behavior. Nevertheless, Lucas is bullied by toxic twins Donna and Rose (Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio respectively) and their friend Moriah (Mirabelle Lee). There is some duplicity here though as Moriah is drawn to Lucas whom she mentions after daring to enter an abandoned building where he discovers a creature (Lukas Hassel) (whom he may have conjured up with a blood ritual to contact his mother.) with whom he establishes a connection.
Trouble arises between Anna and Tom with her leaving and returning with Tom taking more and more to drink. Meanwhile, Lucas and Moriah’s friendship blossoms, she keeping her away from the twins who are as likely to turn against her as he is.
The creature and Lucas are bonded by tearing apart a dog that chased Lucas covering him in blood. What Anna notices and later suspects is foul play when she encounters the owner of the missing dog distributing leaflets. Anna’s suspicions get the better of her, and Lucas finds himself in a mess as his friendship with Moriah disintegrates.
There is no disguise of the message overt in Slapface and reinforced at the end by a short statement from the producers about abuse and bullying; the slapping scenes are very unpleasant; however they are dressed by the protagonists. This, however, does not overshadow the trauma that the brothers suffer from their grief and eventual guilt.
Kipp makes the best possible use of rural and wooded locations; Barry J. Neely’s visuals, sound and score pit threat against beauty. This makes for a very dense and creepy film that mostly takes place in daylight.
Manning and Maturo are great at conveying their grief, what the viewer feels for them, even if their demeanor is poor at times; everyone trying to work out their problems and with each other. The twins, Anna and Moriah aren’t just on the sidelines with just enough development to fit them into the story. Which leads to the manifestation of the creature/monster or the Witch Virago – the latter being a local legend – which places the supernatural alongside the psychological.
Slapface is available on Shudder.