STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes
Interviews with Cast and Crew
Photo Shoots and Stills
• Trailers for other Tartan releases

The Pitch

Sixth Sense
meets The Grudge: angry, sympathetic ghosts
for everyone!"

The Humans

Shin Hyun-Jun,
Song Yoon-Ah. Our feeble American tongues can’t possibly pronounce them.

The Nutshell

A serial
killer has been working
Seoul, South Korea, with a particular MO. After he
kills his victims, he melts their bodies away with acid, then buries their
bones in the sand. The police engage the services of forensic anthropologist
Lee Hyun-Min to reconstruct the faces of the victims so they can be identified.
Because, apparently, computer-aided facial recognition software is more
reliable than, say, dental records. I think I saw an episode of Cadfael like
this, once.

Lee’s work
is disturbed by the health of his young daughter, who received a heart transplant
a year previous. As Lee questions his priorities, he begins to receive strange
and terrifying visions from the ghosts of the killer’s victims, and finds
himself more deeply involved in the case than he had ever imagined.

"Oh, Yorick. I will build you better; I will build you stronger!"

The Lowdown

For the
most part, Face feels like a detective procedural with elements of the
supernatural tacked on at the last moment. The mystery that drives the
detective work is initially compelling, and the facial reconstruction has some
cinematic promise. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, the mystery is all
but defused, and that leaves only the horror to grab the interest of the

Bad news
on the horror front is that the horror has an established purpose right from
the get-go and never deviates from it. The girls in white dresses with crazed,
fish-gaping mouths and long, tangled black hair are out in force, but they have
a role in the film that becomes predictable. Predictable things aren’t scary.
These ghosts appear only to frighten poor Lee into continuing his work on the
facial reconstruction of the latest skull. The scares come from fakeouts and
jump scares, with nothing of the sense of heavy fate that makes other recent
Asian horror so oppressive.

If the
horror is a flop, then at least we’ve got an entertaining mystery, right? Well,
no, not exactly. There’s a significant problem with the structure of the
mystery. The question that the audience is steered toward is, "What is the
killer’s motive?" The answer to that question is given in the first
fifteen minutes, thanks to the repetition of a certain prop.

Example of when dressing appropriately for the situation
yields results: Hitchhiking.

doesn’t turn out to be the final question the film wants to answer; there are
others, such as, "Who is the killer?" that get answered in the
conclusion, but the audience has no investment in discovering the killer’s
identity, because it’s the actions of the killer that receive the focus from
the film’s plot. Collaring him just means that the story ends tidily, with only
a minimum of emotional satisfaction.

The early
revelation of the mystery’s solution raised one big question for me: How do you
keep an audience involved for ninety minutes when they think they’ve already
got your story figured out? Even if there is a twist (and there is one,) you’ve
still sacrificed the lion’s share of your running time building a construct
that your viewers find dull.

conclusion does little to make up for the previous hour or so of tensionless
film. There is a plot twist that calls into question some of the film’s earlier
logic, and a confrontation with the killer that lasts all of a couple of
minutes. By that time, it’s really too late to spark an interest with an
audience that believes it knows all the answers, and finds itself proven

Rear-ended by a Hyundai. Yes, Hyundai.

I guess
it’s a testament for not giving the audience what they want. In horror flicks
and thrillers, the logical manipulation of the rules of the world is what results
in the emotional connection — it’s the feeling that the rug could be swept out
from under you at any moment, or that the director could show you something you
did not expect to see. Face is a pastiche of more
successful films, Eastern and Western, with very little originality to call its
own. If you close your eyes around the ten-minute mark, you may just preserve
the mystery long enough to stay involved.

The Package

bonuses don’t offer much memorable. There are brief interviews with cast and
crew, an outtake reel, and a behind-the-scenes photo shoot, as well as a
gallery of stills from the film and production. There are also a selection of
trailers from other Tartan Asia Extreme releases.

technical specs on this disc are nice and meaty. The widescreen presentation
suffers from a few slight transfer issues in color correction, but the audio is
flawless. There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, and also a DTS 5.1 one. The sound
design in Face has the design of startling the audience with more than simple
jump cues; the effects work is abrasive and sometimes painful, and both the
surround sound tracks give a punch to the audio that is appropriate and admirable.

Before you die, you drop the soap.

6 out of 10