Written and directed by Jeremiah Kipp, Slapface is the latest movie to be added to Shudder. The horror film – which stars August Maturo and Mike Manning – landed on the streaming service today, and tells the story of two brothers, who are trying their best to move forward in life following a family tragedy.
In the film, Lucas and his older brother Tom are made orphans, after their mother is killed in a car accident. Both brothers are dealing with the horrifying incident as best as they can, but it is clear that Lucas is struggling.
To make matters worse, Lucas has no friends to turn to, and the only people he interacts with are a group of girls who bully him. However, when he encounters a strange, frightening, and monstrous creature in the woods, this soon becomes someone (or something) he can grow close to.
Over the coming days, Lucas befriends the creature, developing a connection in the process. But this newfound relationship is not a healthy one and it begins to threaten those around him.
Slapface is an intriguing little movie, which has some interesting ideas. It is a film which uses grief to form the backdrop of its story, juxtaposes this with an element of supernatural horror, and creates a narrative which offers more than quick thrills and jump scares.
But for me, Slapface is a mixed bag of a picture and one that I found myself struggling with. Aspects of the film work, and I’ll discuss these momentarily, but it suffers from pacing issues, including an incredibly slow first half.
I found it difficult to maintain my interest for the first 40-minutes of the film and while I did keep going, confident there would be something to reward my perseverance, I came close to giving up. Those who become restless quite quickly may have the same experience, and I fear the best bits of Slapface may get missed by some audiences.
But for those who stick with it, Slapface offers something a little different. So, as long as you don’t mind a slow-burning tale, there is something here which could work for you.
Moving onto the positive aspects of this film, I feel Slapface does a good job of creating the right mood and atmosphere. The use of shade and lighting stood out to me on multiple occasions, and this really informed the tone of the picture.
This film is about loss and pain and I feel this is conveyed perfectly well through the setting. The house in which Lucas and Tom dwell feels somewhat bereft of life, and this feeds back into the general conversation this movie has about grief.
In terms of the cast, it’s a relatively small one, but they do a good job. August Maturo comes across as the strongest player in this particular piece, and throughout the course of the movie (more specifically during the second half) he gets to shine.
As Lucas, he has a lot of thoughts and feelings bubbling up inside him, and these begin to surface as the story plays out. He really comes into his own toward the conclusion of the film, and gets some good interactions with fellow actor Mike Manning, who plays brother Tom.
And then there is the creature – or the witch, as it is known in the movie. This creepy being, which haunts the background of this feature, casts a grim figure over the story and is very well realised on screen.
The costuming and make-up for the witch is excellent, and is certainly a highlight of the film. Lucas’ interaction with the witch is a key component of the story, so ensuring this character looks good on camera is crucial.
So, all of this is good stuff and as previously noted, Slapface does have some interesting ideas, but I don’t believe it quite manages to pull everything together. While it excels in some areas, it stumbles in others, and the end result is something which is neither one thing nor the other.
Ultimately, it’s the pace that became the stumbling block for me and while I maintain that it has a lot going for it, the film just took too long to hit its stride. As a result of this, I doubt I will return to this picture in the future, even though I found moments of interest here and there.
So Slapface isn’t bad, but it isn’t something I particularly warmed to.