Faces in the Crowd (2011)

Anna Marchant (Milla Jovovich) is a bit of a film cliché – she’s a teacher, her horoscope foretells an encounter with a mysterious stranger that could lead to new possibilities, she’s on Facebook, she has a businessman husband called Bryce, she has two superficial sluttish friends blah blah blah… until one day, it all goes WRONG!

A chance encounter with local serial killer “Tear-jerk Jack” leaves her with sliced hands and Prosopagnosia (or “face blindness”), a rare condition in which she cannot recognise people’s faces from moment- to-moment. This is especially inconvenient because she’s literally the only person in the world to have seen Tear-jerk Jack’s face… and she can’t remember faces anymore. Oh the irony!

Naturally this face blindness causes her private life to fall to pieces and Tear-jerk Jack to get very interested in her, so suddenly she’s confused, alone and being hunted by a serial killer who could literally look like anyone. Can she elude him? Can she survive? Will the police ever do their job properly in a horror movie?

Faces in the Crowd suffers from two major problems – leaps in logic and an obvious storyline. The film is absolutely packed with logic jumps. Having been attacked by a serial killer, Anna wakes up in hospital without a police guard! She sees doctor / specialist before the cops even decide to question her… by phoning her! She makes the front page of every newspaper, but again no one calls her for her story! No one in the media even tries to get an exclusive! Inexplicably people’s VOICES and BODY SHAPES also change, as well as their faces.

The police – like all badly-written thrillers – are once again incredibly incompetent. They set up an identity parade for a woman who can’t recognise faces! Reliable! They also have the DNA of the serial killer but his DNA is not on file, even though – SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER – the killer is a cop, so they DO HAVE his DNA on file! Did someone not look on the police database?! Sigh.

Perhaps these logic leaps seem so irritating because the story is so obvious. The premise is interesting – face blind woman is the only witness to a serial killer! – but it’s a premise that can only go one way, with only a finite amount of ideas / possibilities, and they happen as expected and at a slovenly pace. The identity of the killer is screamingly obvious, and symbolises the overall screaming obviousness of Faces in the Crowd. Nothing surprises.

If you’d like to play the blame game, then focus your annoyance at Julien Magnat, the writer / director of Faces in the Crowd. Bizarrely his previous writing work includes episodes of The Garfield Show and Iron Man: Armoured Adventures. His last major film project was 2002’s Bloody Mallory, which had this sterling plot: “Heroines Mallory, Vena Cava and Talking Tina fight the fallen angel Abaddon and his accomplices vampire Lady Valentine and succubus Morphine.” Despite his huge variety of work, Faces in the Crowd is sadly another piece of mediocre nothingness from Magnat. Perhaps next time Magnat will create something more engaging and compelling.

On a positive note, it’s nice to see Milla Jovovich in a movie where she doesn’t dive backwards in slow motion, firing two pistols. She actually acts. And like in A Perfect Getaway and The Fifth Element, she is excellent throughout. It’s just a shame the film isn’t.

Despite her enjoyable performance, even Jovovich’s character of Anna is horrendously unlikeable at times – when her boyfriend Bryce is unable to handle the face blindness and splits up with Anna, she shrugs it off and has sex with the lead investigator the next day! That may be the only surprising / shocking thing in Faces in the Crowd, even though it wasn’t supposed to be…!

Faces in the Crowd is a great idea drowned in the predictable. It is functional and interesting, but it is obvious where the film is going from the very beginning and takes a long time to get there. Milla Jovovich is great, but the film is not. Unless you’re easily fooled, I recommend skipping this one.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

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