Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Faults

faults

Faluts (2014)  Dir. Riley Stearns

I’ve talked about Faults a bit on the podcast already, but I will talk a little bit more about it now. Being a fan of Leland Orser, someone who has had countless character parts in so many of the movies that most of us enjoy, I was very curious to see what would he would do in this movie. Now, the movie is not flawless, but it is a very well executed film because of the level of dedication of the main stars, including Orser and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, a growing genre favorite.

The basic conceit of the movie is that a fallen star in the world of reality television and talk shows, Ansel Roth, has hit near rock bottom and is getting kicked out of hotels for trying to skim a one night only meal voucher, even though his stay is two nights. He sleeps in his car and carries boxes full of his unsold latest book about deprogramming cult members, and charges ridiculous amounts of money for a signed copy of the failed book. He even tries to barter lesser deals just to survive. His publisher has pretty much dropped him and has gone so far as to send “negotiators” out to intimidate and collect from Ansel. An early highlight, well a highlight in general, is the appearance of Lance Reddick as the aforementioned negotiator. Another early highlight is an audience member, a relative of a famously botched deprogramming and eventual shaming on Ansel’s talk show, heckles and then attacks the failed deprogrammer.

Things get going when a hapless older couple approach Ansel with a need to deprogram their daughter who has joined a group they believe to be a cult. We later meet Claire, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the daughter in question, and her ties to the cult become questionable as it seems that she is adept at manipulating her family, and at times Ansel. The level of uncomfortableness between the players in this deprogramming dramaturgy is sometimes cringe-inducing, but in the best ways. We get to see Ansel, this one time snarky, broken man, squirm under the spotlight as his skills are questioned by the parents, and even Claire. He struggles to gain her trust early on, and is somewhat successful. However, very quickly she latches onto Ansel, often only sleeping if she can sleep in the same bed as him. And Ansel is so lonely that he begins to question his own sort of professionalism and personal boundaries as he finds himself increasingly attracted to Claire.

What starts out as a struggle for Ansel to stay afloat, becomes a descent into his slow deterioration, as he finds that those following him, and those he is charged to break down, begin turning the tables on him. The climax is so mind-bending that I wasn’t sure if I watched Ansel’s perspective play out in real time, or if it was a dream sequence unfolding, as several times he has woken up in his car, unable to explain how he got there. As his world begins to crumble around him, Ansel goes to extreme measures to keep his perceived sanity. And the claustrophobic atmosphere, coupled with the unknown mental and emotional states of Ansel create a sense of dread throughout. This is not conventional horror, as very little blood is shed, mainly from Ansel getting his ass kicked at the beginning of the film, but the horror lies in the shifting perceptions of sanity. Who can Ansel trust? Who would you trust? Keep this in mind if you decide to watch Faults.

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