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Faces in the Crowd (2011)



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Faces in the Crowd (2011)Starring Milla Jovovich, Julian McMahon, Michael Shanks, Marianne Faithfull, Sarah Wayne Callies, Valentina Vargas, David Atrakchi

Written and directed by Julian Magnat

It’s easy to see why Faces in the Crowd is bypassing theaters and heading straight to DVD. It ought to just skip DVD and debut on the Lifetime Network where it belongs. That’s exactly what this is – a lame Lifetime Network original movie with a bigger budget, better name actors, and slicker direction. Not only do you have the disease-of-the-week melodrama of a woman trying to get her life back together after being stricken with a life-altering ailment, she also finds herself at the mercy of a sociopathic stalker out to make her his next victim. This is the quintessential Lifetime Network movie all wrapped up in a nice glossy bow.

The disease in question is “face blindness”, an actual brain disorder that causes a form of amnesia making it impossible to remember faces. Even your own face in the mirror will never look the same way. There is no cure so one has to learn to cope with the disease by learning to distinguish friends and family by their clothing or focusing on one particular distinguishing feature that never changes.

Writer-director Julian Magnat (Bloody Mallory) visualizes his heroine’s condition via special effects that superimpose the same face on multiple heads or by using different actors in the same role. At first these mind-bending devices succeed in being kind of unsettling and conveying a good sense of her daily disorientation. It doesn’t take long before it just becomes a manipulative gimmick that raises questions the movie doesn’t address. If this disorder only affects faces, then why would their hair and body type change as well? Why doesn’t she recognize voices?

The most likely answer is because this movie is designed to be so predictably trite you better believe the climax whips out the worn out which-is-which twin routine with the killer and the cop dressed in identical clothing, leaving her unsure which one of them she should shoot because her face blindness makes it impossible for her to tell them apart otherwise. Yep, it goes there.

Milla Jovovich spends the entire movie in total damsel-in-distress mode as kindergarten teacher Anna, the only survivor of a serial killer known by the ridiculous moniker “Tearjerk Jack”. If I understood correctly, he earned his silly moniker because of his m.o. of weeping over the corpses of the women he’s raped and murdered. Not sure how anyone would know that fact since the only witnesses are dead, and I’d like to believe if they’ve collected teardrops off of the dead bodies, the cops should have his DNA on file. Maybe I missed something along the way. I was struggling to pay attention by the hour mark.

Anna narrowly survives the attack only to fall off a bridge. The bonk she took on the head during the fall has left her with Prosopagnosia, the brain defect better known as face blindness. The cops want her to identify the killer, but she can’t remember faces. She just wants to try to go on with her life, but that’s not so easy when everyone always looks like a stranger. Of course the killer also knows who she is, putting her in constant danger because she can be standing there talking to him and she wouldn’t know it because she can’t remember his face.

If the premise of Faces in the Crowd sounds familiar, then odds are you’ve seen similar early 1990’s thrillers Jennifer 8 and Blink. Both are about women with vision impairments at the mercy of a serial killer who fall in love with the cop trying to protect them.

Anna has a live-in boyfriend (Michael Shanks) from whom she is trying to hide the severity of her condition, fearing that she’ll scare him off, but we know that won’t work out because hunky cop Julian McMahon is waiting to be her shining knight. Don’t you just love how protecting a witness being stalked by a serial killer involves a handsome single policeman and a beautiful witness having to spend the night together all alone at a romantic lake house? Anna may not be able to recover from face blindness, but her broken heart sure mended quickly.

Their romance is easily the crummiest aspect of a film marketed as a terrifying thriller that spends entirely too much time working to be anything but. I again refer back to my Lifetime Network movie comparison. I’d dare say about two thirds of Faces in the Crowd’s bloated running time is her going to therapy and trying to cope with her condition, not the maniac after her. The serial killer side of the story is treated as such a minor subplot early on Magnat has to repeatedly resort to cheap nightmare sequences to remind us this is supposed to be a suspenseful film.

For hardcore Milla Jovovich fans and Lifetime Network movie enthusiasts only. Everyone else can forget this face.

1 1/2 out of 5

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell



Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law

I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film


The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions



Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa

Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.

Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).

What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.

While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.

Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.

While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.

With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.

  • Before We Vanish


Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.

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Delirium Review – Bros, Cameras And A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On



Starring Mike C. Manning, Griffin Freeman, Ryan Pinkston

Directed by Johnny Martin

When will these testosterone-overloaded frat bros with cameras ever learn that pissing off the evil souls of the departed all in the name of amusement won’t get you anywhere but wrecked? Same goes for filmmakers: when will they learn that found-footage exploits set in a house of pure sadism are something of a wrung-out affectation? Oh well, as long as people keep renting them, they’ll continue to get manufactured…which might or might not be to the benefit of the horror film-watching populous.

Delirium opens with a poor lad, strapped with a GoPro, running for his life through a labyrinth of haunted territory, praying for an escape…and it’s a foregone conclusion as to what happens to this trespassing individual. We then relocate our focus towards a collection of (ahem), “gentlemen” self-titled as The Hell Gang, and their escapades are about as profound as their grasp on the English language and its verbiage. The words “dude”, creepy”, and the term “what the fuck” are thrown about so much in this movie it’ll make your head spin to the point of regurgitation. Anyway, their interest in the home of the Brandt clan is more piqued now than ever, especially considering one of their own has gone missing, and they’ve apparently got the gonads to load up the cameras, and traverse the property after-hours, and against the warnings of the local law-enforcement, who surprisingly are just inadequate enough to ignore a dangerous situation. The cursed family and the residence has quite the illustrious and bleak history, and it’s ripe for these pseudo-snoopers to poke around in.

Usually I’m curb-stomping these first person POV movies until there’s nothing left but a mash of blood, snot and hair left on the cement, but Martin’s direction takes the “footage” a little bit outside of the box, with steadier shots (sometimes) and a bit more focus on the characters as they go about their business. Also, there are a few genuinely spooky scenes to speak of involving the possession of bodies, but there really isn’t much more to crow about, as the plot’s basically a retread of many films before it, and with this collection of borderline-douches manning the recording equipment, it’s a sad state of affairs we’re in that something such as this has crept its way towards us all again. I’m always down for jumping into a cold grave, especially when there could be a sweet prize to be dug up in all that dirt, but Delirium was one of those movies that never let you find your footing, even after you’ve clawed your way through all of the funereal sediment – take a hard pass on this one.


  • Film


Got about a half-dozen bros with cameras and a wanton will to get slaughtered on camera, all the while repetitively uttering the same phrases all damn day long? Then my friends, you’ve got yourself a horror movie!

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