MAKING FACES **** Canada 2019 Dir: Andrew J D Robinson. 8 mins
Prolific filmmaker Andrew J D Robinson (THE BECKY CARMICHAEL FAN CLUB, WE KNOW YOU ARE HOME) scores a career best horror short with this portentous, J-horror-inflected study of 21st century alienation. Willow McGregor is terrific as Cassie, a sympathetic young woman whose endurance of some tough times has made her accustomed to the old cliché of “putting on a brave face”. She receives a blank photo order through the post, which results in a resolved complaint – but also the receipt of an eerie image named “Henry”. Set to an eerie original score by Raymond Richmond and sound design that sets us on edge with heightened audio invasions from mundane everyday things (noisy taps, phone vibrations) turned potentially hostile, this distinctive chiller doubles as an empathetic story of contemporary isolation, of the “faces” we submit online all of the time to hide our inner turmoil while struggling to understand our place in the world: “all we can do is keep making faces…” It’s also genuinely creepy and, without resorting to cheap scares, Robinson has faith in his audience to find terror in something as simple and seemingly innocuous as an open door. The catalytic photographs spawned from “artistic glitches” provide alarming imagery reminiscent of outstanding modern supernatural horrors like PULSE and LAKE MUNGO, and the payoff doesn’t disappoint: certain doom confirmed via an unnervingly helpful voice on the phone (Erin Kiniry).
Review by Steven West