I always enjoy seeing something new from Jeremiah Kipp because regardless of the genre, I can be assured of some basic tenets. It’s going to have great performances, look great, and be richly atmospheric. His collaborators are always wisely assembled, often from prior projects.
Written and directed by Kipp, Slapface is a compelling monster fantasy that surprises and features a refreshing subtlety that is also quite powerful.
Dominick Sivilli’s cinematography is characteristically sleek, artful, and raises the production value of anything he shoots. Not overtly flashy, but along with his editing, nicely serving and complementing the story.
Strikingly scenic and varied outdoor locations lend a great sense of place and make for memorable explorations and encounters in the woods and at home.
Like in Kipp’s Pickup, another strong, naturalistic performance is evoked from a young actor, here with Joshua Kaufman as the convincing lead Boy.
He calls out a creature who can alternate between menacing and protective. The “monster” is inhabited by an unrecognizable Lukas Hassel (so good in Kipp’s modern witch tale The Minions). Courtesy of effective and unique makeup FX work from Beatrice Sniper, he is still able to emote and be expressive in his physicality.
Nick Gregory as the father gives a dynamic turn that sheds light on the film’s title. The father-son and monster-boy dynamics skillfully subvert expectations.
Slapface is a brisk eight minutes that left me wanting to learn more about these characters and their relationships. Still very effective in its current incarnation, it does serve as a great teaser for a possible feature. It would definitely support it.