I wasn’t sure what to anticipate going into Slapface, the most recent Shudder original. It sounds like another movie about a witch who lives in the woods when written down. Is it a folk fright? mystical horror something really different? This one caught my eye, and I was pleasantly surprised.
This masterpiece by Jeremiah Kipp, who also wrote and directed it, has a lot to say about the negative effects of toxic masculinity and bullying. It doesn’t really matter if the witch is real or not. The ambiguity in the movie works perfectly. The actual horror is the domestic violence that occurs as a result of two brothers’ incapacity to communicate their feelings or connect with one another.
A lonely, tormented youngster who must contend with a violent older brother as well as the trauma of losing his parents suddenly is the protagonist of this clever Kipp movie. Let’s get in since Slapface has a lot going on.
Slapface and Virago, the Witch
A book detailing a witch’s life is included in the opening credits along with photographs and text. She is described as “then she was a breeze, then she was a beast, slaughtering the parents of the small child” in a statement that sounds like a nursery rhyme.
Newspaper cuttings of kidnapped children and slain parents are presented after these unsettling photos and eerie phrases. According to a child quoted in one headline, the witch forced him to do it. The setup for the urban legend in the movie is really cool.
Is there a witch who inhabits the depths of the woods and incites children to murder their parents? Perhaps, perhaps not. All of it might be in the protagonist’s head.
The witch, Virago, is rumored to stalk the town’s surrounding woodland. When the main character, Lucas (August Maturo), accepts a challenge to enter the woods and explore what appears to be her home—or at least some abandoned house—he unintentionally summons her. Here, the witch’s name is crucial.
If you quickly Google the definition of “virago,” you’ll learn that it refers to a female warrior or a woman with excessively masculine qualities. It is described as a bad-tempered woman in other meanings.
This is significant because the witch ultimately commits murder, loses control, and fosters Lucas’ worst characteristics. She embodies some of the hyper-more masculinity’s repulsive and unhealthy traits.
In addition, there are more viragoes in the movie than the witch. Tormenting Lucas are the twins Rose and Donna (Chiara D’Ambrosia and Bianca D’Amborisa). They briefly kidnap him and threaten to strip him.
These two have absolutely nothing redeeming about them. However, the adorable Moriah (Mirabelle Lee), who is Lucas’ girlfriend, hangs out with them and behaves badly in front of them. Just as the witch pulls out Lucas’ bad attitude, the twins accentuate Moriah’s worst characteristics.
If anything, it’s unclear what Lucas did to earn any of this physical and psychological abuse. He has no other pals, yet he wants so much to be a member of their group.
What Happens at The End of Slapface? : Does the Witch Really Exist?
The movie’s conclusion is brutal and ambiguous. Sheriff Thurston (Dan Hedaya) queries, “Are you the monster, Lucas?” before it occurs. The child doesn’t answer. This possibility is further expanded in the conclusion.
It’s possible that the witch represents Lucas’ worst tendencies, his brother’s toxic masculinity, and the effects of bullying. Maybe it’s his version of retaliation. The choice there is up to the spectator.
Regardless, Lucas is a distraught child who finds it difficult to accept the early loss of his parents. So it would make logical that he would invent a fictional companion based on an urban legend from the neighborhood. What else is there for him to do when he has no other friends and his brother wants to hit him rather than resolve the issue amicably?
Whatever way you interpret the conclusion, Slapface is a potent movie. As a little child with severe emotional scars whose sole true friend might be a spiteful witch in the woods, Maturo in particular provides a moving performance. You feel so bad for him.
This movie tackles some challenging subjects, and its depiction of toxic masculinity is powerful. Men suppressing their feelings face serious repercussions. Watchable, clever, and unexpected, this movie is worth your time.
Shudder will debut Slapface on February 3. Check out my weekly Shudder Secrets blog for more information on the exclusive and original material available on the streaming network.
What Makes Slapface Worth Watching?
Numerous topics, including unresolved trauma, loneliness, abuse, bullying, and grief are covered in the movie. The brothers’ development as characters and how their loss affects them are depicted in a dramatic yet real and convincing way. From beginning to end, the movie is gloomy and hopeless.
There is no glimmer of optimism presented at the conclusion, which can make some viewers uncomfortable who want a happy ending. But as Jeremiah Kipp intended, it is precisely this grim picture that emphasizes the seriousness of trauma and abuse.
Although there aren’t many jumps scares in this movie, it truly embraces the horror subgenre by highlighting the dark side of human emotions.
very strong, often suppressed unpleasant feelings like grief and sorrow. The best thing about horror is this. It enables us to encounter and relate to aspects of human nature that we are compelled to push to the periphery.
For anyone interested in these topics, this film is a must-see. It emphasizes how our upbringing, trauma, and circumstances shape the course of our life.