Slapface starts off with an uncomfortable scene of violence. Two boys sit in a room and slap each other in the face. The fact that it is soon revealed they are brothers does not change the harshness of the game they play. This is just the first of many times grief is mishandled by characters in the film. The two brothers live alone after their parents died in a car accident. They cope with their loss by taking turns slapping each other in the face. When younger brother Lucas (August Maturo) encounters a being in an abandoned asylum, things become more complicated.
Slapface uses traditional horror elements to discuss serious issues. At the core of the movie is grief and loneliness. Along with Lucas and his brother Tom (Mike Manning) are Anna (Libe Barer) who takes on an older sister role and Moriah (Mirabelle Lee) who seems isolated from her friends. Even the monster Lucas befriends seems to take joy in having someone to spend time with.
The setting adds to the film’s dour atmosphere. Much like the lives of the characters, Slapface has grey overtones. There is a cold and almost hopeless feeling to it all. As the plot progresses, Slapface poses a serious question. Has Lucas found another violent outlet for his grief? Or has something more supernatural taken control? Already emotional, the film adds a deeper layer that makes it more powerful.
Things move with a sense of urgency and every scene seems important. The entire cast does an excellent job and elevate everything beyond just another horror movie. Audiences will be drawn into the lives of the characters and will care about everything that is happening. It seems inevitable that the story will lose its way, but up until the impactful final shot, Slapface remains a fascinating watch.
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