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Film4 FrightFest: Faults review

A psychological thriller that struggles with its tone and direction.


Ansel (Leland Orser) is a disgraced expert and speaker on cults whose career is in tatters after one of his cases goes horribly wrong and the girl he saves from a cult kills herself after appearing on his TV shows. Trying to make ends meet by flogging his latest book that he’s self-published, Ansel is approached by a couple desperate for him to help them get their daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) back from a cult known as Faults. In dire need of cash to get out of a fix, Ansel agrees to take the case, kidnaps Claire and holds her prisoner in a motel room whilst he tries to convince her to return to her family.

Faults is an usual film that is by no means a horror so we were a little baffled that it was part of the line-up for this year’s Film4 FrightFest. At its core the movie is a psychological thriller that serves up something truly unique but doesn’t manage to be a complete success. For the first 20 minutes or so you aren’t really sure what kind of movie you’re watching. There’s a lot of humour in it but the tone keeps shifting from funny to deadly serious in a minutes notice leaving the overall tone uneven.

Once Ansel’s character is established, the movie shifts into the main story with Ansel and Claire locked in a motel room as he tries to break her away from Faults. The girl’s pushy parents are in the adjoining room throughout occasionally being brought in to speak to their daughter. Much of the movie takes place in the motel room with Ansel and Claire and due to the uneven tone the pacing is also a little off at times.

Despite a truly unique concept there’s something about Faults that just simply doesn’t work. It could be the slow pacing or it could be the ‘twist’ that turns out not to be all that clever at all but the movie didn’t wow us at all. By the time we got to the credits we felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a bit more to it and honestly the ‘payoff’ wasn’t worth the wait.

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The performances of Leland Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead can’t be faulted. The two actors work well together and they create a believable chemistry in the most bizarre of circumstances. Orser in particular shines as the desperate and kooky Ansel. Winstead on the other hand proves once again that she’s one of the most under-rated actresses in Hollywood and we hope this role leads on to bigger and better things. Lance Reddick steals a few scenes as the hardman employed by Ansel’s manager to put pressure on Ansel and make him cough up the money he owes.

Faults certainly didn’t belong at Film4 FrightFest and viewing it in the wrong context could be part of the reason we were disappointed. That having being said the movie definitely lacked and wasn’t as tight or clever as it seemed to think it was. If it wasn’t for the performances of Orser and Winstead we don’t think there would be much reason to recommend you give it your time.


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