Perhaps it was once a game which had meaning, a test between two brothers, but any element of fun is long gone for Lucas, orphaned along with his elder brother Tom when their parents were killed in a car crash; now, Tom putting on the appearance of doing his best to take care of them while denying anything is wrong, “slapface” has becomes something else, a way of asserting control.

Lucas without friends, he is bullied by a trio of girls from school, vicious and vindictive sisters Donna and Rose and their friend Moriah, pulled along in their wake; challenged by them to a dare involving the abandoned building supposedly home to the Virago Wendigo, Lucas enters to retrieve a prize to buy himself a moments’ relief from their scorn but when they hear his screams the girls flee, Lucas waking later in the forest, alone.

Expanded by writer/director Jeremiah Kipp from his 2018 short of the same name and with Lukas Hassel reprising his role as the shrouded monster of the woods, Slapface is a tragedy of loneliness and alienation, harassed Sheriff Thurston (Alien Resurrection’s Dan Hedaya) unable to devote the time needed to watch out for the boys and running out of patience and Tom (Mike Manning) determined he can stand alone even though he is turning into the worst aspects of his late father.

Tom drinking every night and immediately falling back on anger when he is challenged, unable to express himself in any way other than confrontation, his Wiccan girlfriend Anna (Libe Barer) is more open minded and tries to help but is pushed away, leaving Lucas (August Maturo) with nowhere to turn but to the forest and the spirit which resides within which for some reason has not rejected him.

His only “friends” awful people who torment and take advantage of him, Lucas has no reason not to hang with an equally lonely supernatural being of the forest, the only person who doesn’t bully him or treat him like a child, unable to communicate but entranced by sunsets and water and seeking a companion, yet whose capricious emotions arrive like a force of nature.

A framing of difficult themes as a horror movie akin to Possum, neglect, bullying and toxic masculinity fuel the gathering momentum of Slapface, the resentment and unspoken rage of the sullen Lucas expressed by his new guardian, children asked to grow up and be responsible with no support or guidance, cruelty a currency which is repaid with interest.

Slapface will be available on Shudder in February



Show Buttons
Hide Buttons