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“PLANKFACE” (Film Review)

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As a young couple begin to fool around on the hood of their car, deep in the woods, we see a masked figure walk up, dragging an axe. While the murderer definitely succeeds in his mission of murder in the short scene, he’s wounded multiple times before stumbling off. Not too long after, Max and Stacey (I-ZOMBIE’s Nathan Barrett and FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS’ Ellie Church) are setting up for a nice weekend of camping when they’re attacked by a drifter who leaves Max injured and Stacey brutally raped. When Max awakes, mid-way through his girlfriend getting raped, something in him snaps, and not only does he exact revenge on the drifter, but does it by returning the favor with a knife…right before getting knocked unconscious.

From there, PLANKFACE really goes crazy, incorporating feral, masked cannibals, murder, sex, and much more. What we’re given as an audience, in a series of forced steps in making Max slowly lose touch with his humanity and become what he’s expected to become, even if it means getting stripped, having nails driven into his feet and beaten past the point of sanity. We see the remnants of a normal, fun-loving character, slowly turn into another feral member, eating victims and learning to shed the last of his former self, donning a mask made of wood (props to James Dunn for creating such an interesting and unique mask) with a melted tar-like substance to adhere it, Max becomes the next embodiment of the titular character.

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Bypassing your typical killer in the woods approach in favor of a fully-fledged story of a familial group of cannibalistic, feral woods people, PLANKFACE offers something refreshingly new to the horror genre, a story that puts tone and mood above a series of nonstop kills just for the sake of having kills. Every death in the film means something and acts as one more layer of who Max once was being shed, as he embraces a bloody, violent and very sexual backwoods type of life.

The performances in the film are not only just brave, but absolutely fearless, with every single member of the cast fully committed to their roles in ways other films would shy away from in a second. It’s all on show in PLANKFACE, the raw, nude bodies of its actors, the grit and grime and gore of their cannibalistic, feral lifestyle.

A ballsy film which never attempts to go for the mainstream, not even for a single second, director Scott Schirmer (FOUND.) and co-writer/composer/cinematographer Brian K. Williams (HARVEST LAKE) know where their stories work best: in the balls out, gory as all hell, sexually explicit, in your face type of areas, areas where playing things safe and by the book aren’t choices they just happen to accidentally dodge, but choices which are bucked at every corner. We don’t get true genre mavericks like this collaborative duo very often and the fact that these two are not only making good genre films, but making them on their own terms and with their own uniquely singular voices, well, that’s just something that should not only be enjoyed, but downright celebrated.

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About the author
Jerry Smith

A lifelong genre fanatic, Smith loves all things Carpenter and
plays a mean game of hide and seek. Currently the Editor In Chief of
Icons of Fright, Jerry hails from the dead center of California and
changes diapers on his off time.

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