Friday, 16 January 2015


There are a number of rarities out there in indie horror — films that received to most limited of releases, those that slipped under the radar and promptly came and went with little in the way of public attention due to limited promotional budgets.
In some cases this is a real crying shame. I have long expounded the quality of filmmaking taking place in the indies - while big studio horror often follows set formulas depending on what it seems to be big at the time (which becomes boring very, very quickly), the creativity and risk-taking from these smaller movies is often a real eye-opener.
It came as no surprise to me that the best of the year lists from genre heavyweights such as Dreadcentral, Bloody-Disgusting and Fangoria were dominated by independent efforts.
With that in mind I keep an eye on any online buzz surrounding titles that may not have the marketing teams behind them that they deserve. Recently I heard about West 2nd Productions' The White Faced Man. I promptly hit their web site and snagged myself an EXTREMELY limited, Collector's Edition dvd (one of a run of just 40 copies!) and sat down with the flick to share it with you guys. 
Is this another hidden genre gem? Read on...


Dir: Luke Ramer
Starring: Gerald Prince, Norman Provost, Jacinth Sutphin, Allison Houle, Brian DiBonaventure
SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

Draven (Prince) is a contract killer, working for his ruthless gangland boss (Provost). This changes when he discovers that his wife Genevieve (Sutphin) is expecting their child. Draven tries to go straight, turning his back on the life of crime he has lived until now.
However a truly shocking and violent event drags Draven into a nightmare, seeing him and a young junkie, Liza (Houle) fleeing a deadly, scythe-wielding assailant.
What happened on that fateful night? And will Draven escape the clutches of The White Faced Man?

BEST BITS (minor spoiler warning): While it is definitely a low-budget effort, I can't help but admire what Ramer and co have done with The White Faced Man. It plays as a nice genre hybrid, part crime thriller, part gritty actioner and part supernatural horror, and most importantly, it manages to juggle these without ever feeling disjointed or clunky.
While the story is pretty predictable (you can almost certainly piece together EVERYTHING that happens in the film from that synopsis above), it remains entertaining and never bores.
It’s comparatively brisk running time of just 50 minutes (is that a very long short or a very short feature? Hmmmm…) ensures that it never wears out its welcome and events unfold at a nice pace.
The plot actually reminded me a little of Spawn, featuring a tough-as-nails black protagonist with a heart versus an otherworldly foe and even SPOILERS********** culminating in a diabolical bargain SPOILERS END**********
It’s nice to see the nature of crime thrillers taking on an almost mythical subtext here, certain characters are clearly archetypes, lending the film a hard-boiled edge, not lazy characterisation but Sin City-like story-telling.
This is helped by a fantastic lead performance from Prince. He really carries the weight of this entire movie on his broad shoulders and he is excellent throughout. He is believable in the role of ass-kicking tough guy, but has the acting chops to bring some sensitivity and emotion to the part. He makes for an entirely sympathetic lead, yet you never doubt his ability to get his hands dirty should the need arise. Excellent work from a clearly very talented actor.
I also enjoyed Houle’s turn as frightened drug addict Liza. The scene in which she described her terrifying first encounter with the White Faced Man really ratchets up the tension. She doesn’t get enough screen time for my liking, but what she knocks it out of the park with what she gets. Another impressive performance.
Ramer seems a pretty good director, throwing a few nice flourishes in to the picture and doing his best with his limited resources. I particularly want to praise his work during the film’s most shocking sequence — it caused me to gasp at the screen, a rare reaction from this jaded horror reviewer. One particular grim and gruesome image is particularly haunting — well done, Mr Ramer!
Finally, I want to point out the brilliant package in which the Collector’s Edition comes. Not since Lord of Tears have I been so impressed! The film comes signed, numbered, boasts a host of bonus features, a mini-poster and includes a hand-written note/script page from the early stages of making the film! As if that wasn't enough, it comes wrapped in ‘bloody’ tissue paper (see pic below). Now, how cool is that?

WORST BITS (minor spoiler warning): As is so often the case with indie horror, the lower budget does hurt the film somewhat. The film looks nice enough but definitely lacks the polish of a larger studio production. This carried over into some aspects of the filming — effects shots would often cut away before returning to a bloodier aftermath. Of course it would have been extremely difficult (not to say prohibitively expensive) to depict these scenes so it is rather understandable.
Unfortunately it also effects some of the fight scenes. Fight choreography is difficult to pull off without the necessary levels of expertise and, alas, every now and then The White Faced Man falls a little short. This isn't such a big problem that it’s enough to ruin the film, it merely pulls you out of the moment now and then.
I’ll also admit that I was a little disappointed with The White Faced Man when he finally appeared. After that fantastic scene in which Houle really laid some sterling groundwork for his onscreen arrival and I found myself really looking forward to a truly twisted and creepy antagonist — unfortunately what we get doesn’t quite live up to the hype. It’s not a terrible villain by any stretch, but movies of this type rely very much on strong, creepy bad guys and this one is just kind of okay. Oh well, you can’t win them all.
Finally, some people may have a problem with some of the actors. I can imagine that Provost’s bug-eyed, cigar-chomping, cartoonish Boss may turn some off, but I loved it. The White Faced Man fits in the same world as the darker, more gritty comicbooks of the mid/late-90s, the likes of Spawn, The Crow and The Punisher. It almost feels like an origin story for one such nihilistic and dark hero. With that in mind The Boss is a perfect fit. In a story where even the hero is a pretty shady character, our villains need to be pretty damn despicable — and as shits go, they don’t get much worse than this nasty piece of work!

VERDICT: I enjoyed The White Faced Man and I do recommend it — but with some caveats. It’s very much a low-budget affair and ultimately maybe more of an over-the-top supernatural action thriller than a truly scary, horror movie. I’m cool with this, but some of you may not be.
It‘s not an oscar winner by any stretch, but it is entertaining. It‘s a nice (if not entirely original) premise, pretty well-executed with a great lead and some cool moments throughout. It flies by at good pace, packs a lot into its shorter runtime and comes in a truly excellent Collector’s Edition. Buy it to support indie horror, watch it to have a fun time with a decent popcorn horror/crime thriller hybrid.

The film is available through the West 2nd Productions web site (there are even a few copies of the ultra rare Collector’s Edition left) so check it out. If nothing else it’s worth owning a rarity like this one to brag to your friends!
Also do check out the film’s official Facebook page. Indie horror filmmakers rely on social media to spread the word, so hit them with a Like and do your bit!

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

No comments:

Post a Comment