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‘Faceless After Dark’ review: Decent horror movie with one big problem

Becoming typecast is something many actors try to avoid. But there comes a point when studios -and even audiences – will refuse to accept a popular actor in another type of role. Some end up leaning into it (scream queens, rom-com sweethearts). Then there are those who absolutely rail against being stuck in the same type of films. Think of all the comedic actors who take on more serious fare or innocent child actors who take on more risqué roles when they get older.

It does not work all the time, but you cannot blame someone for trying to do something different out of their comfort zone. On the flip side, it is hard not to feel for someone who is never given the chance to display their acting prowess. But what if an actor typecasts themselves?

Starring and written by Terrifier’s Jenna Kanell, Faceless After Dark follows Bowie whose breakout role was – you guessed it – the star of a killer clown horror flick. But when an obsessed fan dressed as the same clown comes to her home, Bowie must take matters into her own hands in order to survive.

The introduction to a character can make or break a movie. In less than a minute, the film presents a character who is jaded by the direction her career has taken and seems to dislike her fans. Faceless After Dark seems to want to paint Bowie as a sympathetic character, but she often comes off as ungrateful and holier-than-thou. Since the character is unlikeable pretty much from the jump, it becomes impossible to ever get fully invested in the actual movie. 

As Faceless After Dark progresses, it is hard not to wonder whether writing the movie was a form of catharsis for Kanell. All it takes is a quick look online to see just how toxic fanbases can become. And Kanell probably used some of the uglier comments they have received when crafting the script.

'Faceless After Dark' review: Decent horror movie with one big problem

Art can be a great form of therapy, and hopefully Kanell was able to accomplish whatever they wanted (assuming there is anything deeper than wanting to make a horror movie). But when that work is put on display for the public, it becomes subject to criticism. Faceless After Dark is a passable horror movie with a fine premise that suffers from a huge problem: an insufferable lead.

There are some decent kills, though it is Bowie’s arc that is the most compelling part of Faceless After Dark. She is struggling to move on from the role that defined her, but those who remember her refuse to let it happen. It is a fine idea that never comes together due to sluggish pacing, shoehorned social commentary, and over the top camera effects.

Faceless After Dark is available in select theaters and digital platforms

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