Written and directed by Riley Stearn his first full feature Faults wowed audiences at FrightFest 2014 but left me feeling unsatisfied after an extremely interesting set up seemed to slip away into a predictable one trick horror flick.
That set up revolves around the central character Ansel Roth (Taken and 24 star Leland Orser) a down on his luck cult expert. Having left behind the job that made his name in favor of flogging his second and very unsuccessful book he is reduced to eking out an existence in terrible hotels doing talks on mind control while failing to get back on his feet and out of living in his car.
At one such talk where everything is seemingly going wrong Ansel is approached by a couple whose daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead from The Thing and Final Destination 3) is in the grips of a strange new cult called Faults. Desperate to have their girl back they will do anything Ansel says and seeing the opportunity to get back on his feet and out of debt to his publisher he agrees to help.
But once Claire is away from the cult and in the motel where Ansel can deprogram her things take a turn to the weird and soon he finds himself spinning out of control questioning everything he knows and fearing for his own sanity.
Part jet black comedy and part psychological horror Faults offers up some interesting ideas and the character of Ansel is a good one. There are plenty of laughs at Ansel’s sad life and odd ball moments and appearances from people such as his publisher and his partner both played with aplomb by Jon Gries and the excellent Lance Reddick.
The cast are all very strong especially Orser and Winstead however once the pair are together and the mental standoff begins it is painfully obvious where the plot is going. This mundane predictability spoils the rest of the film leaving the audience simply waiting for the inevitable end, an end I am sure most of you have worked out already from this write up.
It’s a real shame as a more adventurous storyline perhaps taking Ansel’s character into the cult itself or offering more of a multilayered structure would have been far more engaging and interesting rather than the static one set location and at times boring duologues that make up the final and most important movement of the movie.
Made on a low budget Riley Stearn’s achievement should not be lessened and the hope is with this as a calling card he can secure a bigger budget giving him the freedom to take his ideas further on his next project as he obviously has talent.
Fault’s fault is its obvious story but that’s not the fault of the cast who do a great job. Let’s just hope Stearn’s next horror is a little less predictable.