Dir: Jon Hoffman
Star: Hannah Leigh, Julian Berlin, Jonny Mack, Charity Shea

Ironic how art imitates life. The very day I watched this, I read in the paper about how French surgeons had carried out the world's first face transplant. And lo, here's this film, which depicts the attempts of a backwoods gal to do the same thing - albeit using visiting campers as unwilling donors - after her stepfather carves up her own visage in a drunken fury. Into her forest comes a middle-aged man, his new trophy wife, a disaffected son + daughter from a previous marriage, and one of their friends. They're anticipating a weekend of camping, family bonding and definitely not assaults by a knife-wielding, disfigured psychopath.

There is one phenomenally good face-ripping which, by itself, virtually justifies seeing this. You expect the director to cut away. You can keep right on expecting, because he doesn't - it will make you take notice, and gives the film an "anything can happen" feel. Otherwise, that edge is a bit lacking, and there's very little new here; the end is particularly obvious, though the expected shocks are competent enough. However, the failure to deliver any nudity is disappointing: I mean, you've got an almost entirely young, photogenic cast, at it like rabbits...only very tamely. You're skinning people alive, f'heavens sake, an R-rating is guaranteed: why not take advantage? Bit of a lost opportunity - and you could say the same for the movie as a whole, despite the gloriously gory flaying which was the highlight of my viewing this week.

[This film is released in the US on December 6th, in widescreen, with a commentary & deleted scene - maybe that's where the nudity went. For more information, visit MTI's website.]

December 2005

Face off
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