I love Face Off’s new short film finales, which started last season. It’s a perfect way to end the season with a real-world test of the contestants’ skills. They’re no longer creating makeups in a vacuum, but have to try to bring someone else’s concept to life. It adds realistic obstacles—obstinate directors, the reality of how makeup looks on camera or under certain kinds of lights.
While this season seemed to have less impressive work overall, with challenge results like this one, the finalists’ finale makeups were all excellent. Any of them—Melissa, Rob, or Walter—could have won, I think.
The actual winner, Rob, who’s 20 and the show’s youngest-ever winner, created a demon and a possessed woman who both looked great on camera.
The three short films? They were scary—but for all the wrong reasons.
Face Off’s finalists wrestle with short film demons
Season 9’s short films were all directed by Patrick Tatopoulos, who’d previously been a judge, and for what they were, they succeeded. This season, in a nice twist, the producers brought in directors who’d previously done short horror films. Melissa worked with John Wynn; Walter worked with Ryan Spindell; and Rob worked with Bryce McGuire.
They all worked from the same basic outline, but each brought their own vision to the script, titled “Hell Hole.” All three versions had a thin plot, yes, but the models did an excellent job with the material.
These mini-movies were filmed under a lot of constraints, of course, starting with time and money, and the films were mostly designed to showcase the artists’ work, not win awards at Sundance. But clearly, one was more successful than the other.
Hell Hole: Dark Harvest, in which Walter’s work was showcased, opened with a beautifully lit shot of sunlight streaming into a barn. It had a great use of special effects, especially with the vines (though the swirling thing over the house didn’t quite work), and a beautifully creepy coda.
Most importantly, it had coherent progression from shot to shot, scene to scene. That is, alas, what the other two films were really missing—and made them scary-bad.
Hell Hole: Dead Earth, which featured Rob’s work, was a period piece that had a nice establishing shot but then leapt forward inexplicably. They’re going into the house; he’s pointing at a map; they’re canoodling; he’s digging; it’s seven months later; the character has changed entirely. Dead Earth did, however, have the most legitimately scary reveal, with the flashlight panning across the demon.
Hell Hole: Repossession, which included Melissa’s demon and possessed woman, suffered the most from a lack of coherence. It starts with a strong set-up, but totally falls apart. In the middle of the night, the main character goes downstairs after unsuccessfully rousing her partner, and sees a cyclops doll. Then the doll is in the fire; then the guy is awake and standing next to her. What? Then she’s searching the Internet.
And oh, the Internet! Maybe the most scary part of all was that both Repossession and Dark Harvest had characters searching the web, and those web searches that were so comical they made The Net seem like a documentary. That may have been the scariest part of all.