Lucas (August Maturo) is a young boy trying to deal with the loss of his mother. Often in trouble with the law, Lucas has been given multiple stern warnings by the local Sheriff (Dan Hedaya). Lucas lives with his older brother, Tom (Mike Manning), but their relationship is highly questionable and rather unsettling. Tom generally doesn’t care much for his little brother Lucas, and he picks on him constantly. He also doesn’t care what Lucas does with his time or worry that Lucas is getting in trouble regularly. At night, the two brothers sit down and play an unsettling game of Slapface as a way to vent their frustration, or at least that is how Tom sees it.
But for Lucas, life is about to make a dark change. After Tom meets a young girl and welcomes her to stay over as long as she wants, he begins to prioritise her even more than Lucas. Sad and annoyed with his older brother, Lucas accepts a dare from his friends unlike anything he’s ever done before. Lucas is dared to walk around a scary house, and whilst accomplishing the dare, he unexpectedly meets a large, creepy witch. After his first encounter, Lucas wakes, thinking perhaps what he saw was just a dream. But it’s not long until many strange events begin to occur. The question is, how far is Lucas willing to go with his new encounter before it’s too late?
Slapface is best described as an unsettling horror movie with moments of drama. The film’s creativity introduces a mysterious, unsettling witch, but what’s even more unsettling is seeing first-hand the current lifestyle Lucas has, including the abusive relationship he has with his older brother. The performances here are very satisfying. Actors August Maturo and Mike Manning deliver very realistic performances, and I found it believable that the two could be brothers in real life. Supporting performances from actors Libe Barer and Dan Hedaya were also great throughout the film.
Concerning the horror aspect, this is another positive for me. Not everything about the mysterious witch is revealed during Lucas’s first interaction. The film keeps certain aspects about the witch hidden, which only builds suspicion and suspense from its viewers. What we do see from the witch is highly creepy and scary. Even when the film shows its audiences very little or less, it still manages to deliver a solid impact in the horror department which I enjoyed.
Pacing is an aspect I can’t fault or speak negatively about it. The film has been achieved on a low budget and possibly during Covid. I say this because many scenes occur at the same locations over and over- house, bar, Police Station, in the woods, and the list goes on. The small cast and strong, mysterious, frightening journey held my attention right to the end. While delivering a strong note and a positive message, the ending has vague elements. Perhaps the director/writer, Jeremiah Kipp, felt it was unnecessary to give closure on certain matters, leaving me minorly dissatisfied.
Overall, this is a highly enjoyable scary movie. It’s a film that focuses on the horror aspect of a witch and the horror that can occur in a family home and upbringing. It’s a great concept that has been achieved with a small cast, few locations and a strong story that held my investment right to the end. Actors August Maturo and Mike Manning deliver very realistic performances, and the film lands its ending on a positive note which I’m sure will leave viewers with a few thoughts of their own. Slapface (2022) is Available Exclusively on Shudder from February 3rd.