SLAPFACE (2021) Reviews and now on Shudder

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‘Where do monsters come from?’

Slapface is a 2021 American horror film about a withdrawn boy and the deadly monster in the woods that he befriends.

Written and directed by Jeremiah Kipp (Black Wake; 60 Seconds to Die ‘Monster’; The Sadist; The Pod) based on his short film of the same title,

The movie stars August Maturo (The Nun), Mike Manning, Dan Hedaya and Libe Barer.

Plot:
After the death of his mother, Lucas (August Maturo), a loner who lives in a rundown home with his brother Tom (Mike Manning), regularly seeks solace in the nearby woods. With his only “friends” being a group of female bullies, he keeps to himself most of the time.

After a strange encounter with an inhuman monster, Lucas begins to withdraw from others. The two reach a tentative trust and the boy is swept up in a series of primal adventures. A bizarre friendship is born. When violence and carnage begin to follow, Lucas must try and stop his new friend from killing again.

Meanwhile, Anna (Libe Barer), an outsider in their small town who becomes romantically involved with Tom and grows increasingly concerned about the welfare of Tom’s little brother. Plus, Sheriff John Thurston (Dan Hedaya), has a history with Tom and Lucas’ deceased mother and feels a responsibility to look out for the well-being of her orphaned children…

Reviews:

“The entire cast does an excellent job and elevate everything beyond just another horror movie. Audiences will be drawn into the lives of the characters and will care about everything that is happening. It seems inevitable that the story will lose its way, but up until the impactful final shot, Slapface remains a fascinating watch.” AIPT

“Writer-director Jeremiah Kipp has crafted an ambiguous film of mourning gone wrong, as a neglected boy’s transgressive rites of passage play out simultaneously as supernatural tale and psychodrama, with a murderous monster emerging as much from within as from without, and brothers’ festering feelings being viciously fought out.” BFI

Slapface is very much about the ideas that crossed the minds of children and teenagers without thinking about the consequences. The two central performances from Lucas and Tom are fantastic and really drive the film forward until a truly gut-wrenching finale. A harrowing but essential watch.” Bloody Flicks

“A lot of Slapface is a wonderful and well-developed exploration of the idea of grief and loss and how it can be a struggle to confront those feelings. Writer/Director Jeremiah Kipp places the themes into the framework of a toxic household run by a young man who doesn’t seem to understand any kind of way of processing his and his brother’s feelings without physical violence, clear cut denial, and an unhealthy co-dependence.” Cinema Crazed

Slapface does a lot with a little — few locations and low budget. But it’s terrifically shot, suggesting more than showing and building a slow-burning creepiness. We don’t see much of the monster (Lukas Hassel) in more than glimpses and aftermath, making it easier to overlook the simplicity of its design and fill in the blanks ourselves. Instead, Kipp emphasizes his actors, and Maturo carries the film with relative ease.” Fanboy Planet

Slapface is heavy, and is all the better for it; despite a tiny budget (which Kipp milks for all its worth), it never once feels cheap in its production or morals. It’s clever, often cruel, but categorically grown-up filmmaking to its core, and Kipp and his team deserve a bright future in genre-adjacent storytelling like this.” 4/5 HeyUGuys

“What lures us into Slapface isn’t the promise of monsters and violence and gore, however, but the struggles of Lucas and Tom to build a life where they can take care of one another in a healthy manner. At a certain point, these two are going to have to realize they just cannot reset their emotional equilibrium through a session of slapface, and have to take the world on its own terms.” Sonic Cinema

“With its themes of bullying, anger, and the inability to express negative emotions in a healthy way, Slapface is more than just another monster in the woods film. But it’s not a dull exercise in elevated horror either, it has its share of scares and mayhem. It’s one of the few films that can find the right balance between the two.” Voices from the Balcony

Release:

Slapface premiered at the Cinequest/Cinejoy festival in March 2021. It was shown at the 2021 Arrow Video FrightFest.

Slapface will be available for streaming on Shudder on February 3rd 2022.

Background:

Previously, Jeremiah Kipp told Rue Morgue: “I was always inspired by the personal filmmaking of writer/directors like Larry Fessenden. With Slapface, I wanted to make a movie about where I grew up, and part of my childhood always involved a sense of wonder about monsters.

My grandfather raised me, and he grew up in a brutal environment where Frankenstein and Dracula were a source of comfort for him. He’d often imagine the monster swooping in and killing his enemies, but the old curse says the one who seeks revenge had better dig two graves. I took the monster of his imagination and made the creature literal, and deadly, in Slapface.”

Cast and characters:
August Maturo … Lucas
Mike Manning … Tom
Libe Barer … Anna
Mirabelle Lee … Moriah
Dan Hedaya … Sheriff John Thurston
Bianca D’Ambrosio … Donna
Chiara D’Ambrosio … Rose
Lukas Hassel … The Monster
Alixx Schottland … Mrs. Blair
John Backstrom … Bartender
Mack Kuhr … Deputy Leggett
Nick Theurer … Deputy Shepard
Curtis Braly … Nurse
Maha Maturo … The Mom
Stella Hollon-King … Little Girl

Filming locations:
Upstate New York

Trailer:

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