A collection of home videos from different times and locations in the world containing real deaths and murders.
It's been a while since "Faces of Snuff" was sent our way. If this had been sent to me back in 2008 when we started, I would probably have sat down to watch it the second I got the e-mail, but for some reason I am unable to muster up excitement for most movies like this nowadays. I'll rather review something when I am in the mood for that particular movie. You might wonder if we have became boring and don't have an interest in "sick" films anymore? Not at all, it's rather that you start to see a pattern in low quality productions, where they severely lack the imagination, originality and power that's needed to succeed with a "snuff film". This is exactly the case with "Faces of Snuff". It's not even a case of becoming jaded. I can't stand when people point out how jaded they are and that they can't be shocked. I can appreciate how something is disturbing or fucked up without feeling physically or mentally affected by it myself. Again, "Faces of Snuff" does not do this either.
The movie starts with a man in handcuffs who sits down in front of the camera to tell us about what we're about to see - a collection of real death footage. He then goes on to say that snuff films are "the evolution of horror". Which is what you would expect from something like this: the same kind of "real death is awesome" mentality that the internet is surrounded with, where actual real footage compilations like "MDPOPE" is only for the coolest of the cool. If it wasn't obvious from the title, then you know by now that this will be over 2 hours of try hard short films.
You might not believe it, but I still get thrilled by the idea of watching something that is so well made and convincing that I feel uncertain if what I'm watching is fake. That doesn't happen often though, and the most notable cases for me are "August Underground" and the first "Guinea Pig". The reason that these two were convincing is simply because they were well made in both effects and execution (which includes acting, the situations they find themselves in, etc.). A handful of years ago I stumbled upon a short film with a very anonymous presentation, that went under the name of "Captains Pride, Volume 33 (Restored)". There were no credits and no person connected to it, which was quite fun at the time. The film itself didn't pack a lot of bang. There was nothing overly convincing and it just went through the typical "masked men torture a girl" thing with so-so effects. Ultimately it did nothing unique and was actually quite boring despite being 6 minutes long. You might wonder why I bring this short film up again to this extent? Well this short film is one of the last segments of "Faces of Snuff". Coincidentally, my review of "Captains Pride, Volume 33 (Restored)" is pretty much a short version of my review of "Faces of Snuff", because there is few moments in this very, very long movie that stand out as anything interesting.
The majority of "Faces of Snuff" is bland torture scenes, which would be fine if they were either very convincing or had an interesting twist to them. This is not the case. The one point that I am sure people will talk about (and the "cool internet underground patrole" will praise it for) is the graphic sex. Other than that, we have a rather un-shocking presentation on our hands, and who actually gets shocked by pornography anymore? There is one segment that I can remember that actually did stand out a bit, although with a rather silly premise. A family is afraid of Y2K closing in on them, so they decide to commit suicide before midnight on December 31st, but things don't go as planned. This is definitely not a great segment, but it's a few minutes of somewhat interesting content in an otherwise overlong mishmash of low quality faux snuff submissions.
Sure, the idea of "Faces of Snuff" is something I could stand behind. Filmmakers from all around make their own fake snuff films and it's released in a compilation. I love that idea, yet something about this particular compilation rubs me the wrong way. Is it because it still tries to appear anonymous, but feels so very unconvincing that it becomes a joke of the idea? It's weird that the IMDb page has the title "Shane Ryan's Faces of Snuff", as that would imply that Shane Ryan (one of the directors and probably its producer) at one point really wanted his name on this product. Again, it's unfortunate that I am as harsh as I am towards this movie, but I think that if you put "Faces of" in the title, it should be a bit more than a bunch of Z-grade torture scenes put together. I rewatched "Faces of Death" not too long ago and I was still more convinced by the fake scenes in that than the ones in "Faces of Snuff"!
There are still many ways for movies to disturb, but I think it's about time that people realise that trying your hardest to be shocking is actually not the way to do it. If you're not convinced by me saying that, maybe watching shorts that want-to-shock-but-fail-to for 2 hours and 15 minutes will. If you are gonna not only use "Faces of" in your title, but also throw in the keyword of shock that is "Snuff", you should have a more convincing presentation. I don't doubt that this title will help the marketing though.
I want to repeat that I love the idea of having several filmmakers do their version of a snuff short and put that together. I just find it so incredibly unsatisfying when almost all of the shorts come off as the same thing. It's the filmmakers' job to try and create something new, exciting and surprising with the fake snuff genre. There are probably a ton of ways to do that, but the filmmakers behind these shorts all decided to go with the most typical and unoriginal ideas. Don't waste your time with "Faces of Snuff". I know that you will have high expectation and hope for this to be the next rush in shocking horror, but it's not.