Anna Merchant seemingly has it all: good looks, a great teaching job, some sassy sex in the city style friends and a hunky boyfriend who wants to spend the rest of his life with her.
That is of course until while walking home late one night she accidentally witnesses the latest murder perpetrated by the brutal serial killer stalking the city streets dubbed Tearjerk Jack.
Not taking kindly to being disturbed while at his wicked work, the maniac chases Anna who runs for her life nearly losing it when she slips and falls off a bridge hitting her head in the process.
Waking as the sole survivor of the killer’s seemingly unstoppable rampage, the police are eager to get Anna to identify the psychopath and end his reign of terror, however there is one major problem. The knock to Anna’s head has left her with Prosopagnosia an extremely rare condition which stops her brain identifying or remembering faces.
Unable to recongnise her own best friends, boyfriend or even her own reflection Anna must now try to live on in her world gone mad where everyone is a stranger and anyone could be her potential killer.
Faces in the Crowd is first and foremost a highly original and very well made thriller which takes a scary, bizarre yet very real medical condition and utalises it to full effect within the framework of a serial killer movie.
Written and directed by Julien Magnat, Faces in the Crowd is his second feature after his 2002 low budget debut Bloody Mallory a French take on Buffy the Vampire Slayer highly influenced by the visual style and hyper-reality of Anime and Manga.
Faces in the Crowd stylistically plunges us into Anna’s world after her accident using various visual tricks and brilliant special affects to show her Prosopagnosia and the madness it creates within her.
Characters constantly change sometimes several times in one scene with different actors playing the parts who look subtly but noticeably different even extending to the main roles such as Anna’s Doctor and the detective on the case played initially respectively by Marianne Faithfull and Julian McMahon.
Although at its core the story of a single female survivor stalked by a serial killer only she can identity has been done to death what really propels the film way above other thoroughly tired thrillers is the innovative execution of the main characters ailment and an excellent lead performance from the ever likable Milla Jovovich who gives gravitas to a character twist that could have been quickly boringly gimmicky.
The tension and chaos created by Anna’s inability to remember faces is what ups the fear and thrill factor in the film. Magnat makes sure to throw in every trick and twist to keep you entertained and enthralled until the final frame.
With Giallo leanings spliced together with an almost unbelievable real-life neurological disorder, this is an original and very well done thriller. It has a solid cast and a high concept twist on the genre that is perfectly executed all combing to make Faces in the Crowd definitely stand out.