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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Face
Face
Tartan Video // R // September 27, 2005
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 11, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

In modern day Seoul, there's a serial killer on the rampage. Not content to simply off his victims and be done with it, he takes it a couple of steps further than your average psychopath and has a nasty habit of burning off the flesh of his victims faces with a powerful acid. Not only is this twisted, but it makes the detectives who are assigned to the case work a lot more difficult than it already was in the first place.

Thankfully for the cops on the force, there's Hyun-min, an extremely intelligent man who used to make his living as a forensic sculptor who specialized in reconstructing the faces of people who had been killed or murdered in such a way as to lead to facial disfigurement. How did he do this? By examining and in turn interpreting what they would look like in real life based on the size and shape of their skulls. Seeing as the killer on the loose has been leaving the skulls pretty much intact, it would seem that Hyun-min is the right man for the job and that he should be able to help the cops quite a bit.

Things start to get odd for him when he decides to take his work home with him. Once the bones of the victims are in his house, his young daughter starts to act really strange and she starts having horrifying and nightmarish visions from someone else's past. As his daughter's condition worsens and becomes more and more intense, Hyun-min tries to put together all the pieces of a very macabre puzzle in hopes of saving her from whatever strange malady is wreaking havoc wit her mind and her soul.

At this point in time, it should surprise no one to find out that Hyun-min's daughter is being haunted by a longhaired creepy female ghost. Like we've seen countless times in the recent crop of Asian horror movies, this ghost likes to appear in the background or make sudden appearances right up front, which makes for some fun jump scares but ultimately leaves no real lasting impression – and that's a shame as Face adds an interesting element of forensics and police investigation to the Asian ghost story that could have been something very cool had the filmmakers concentrated more on putting together a story that broke a little new ground for once.

That being said, Face is an entertaining movie, even if it isn't even close to a very original one. There is some nice atmosphere throughout the bulk of the running time and the pacing is quite good in that it isn't even dull, even if we don't have much trouble figuring out where it's all going and why. The cinematography is slick and professional looking and the jump scares, despite not having any lasting effect, are a fun, if very fleeting and obviously temporary cheap thrill.

The DVD

Video:

Aside from some mild trailing in a few scenes, Tartan's 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is quite good. The black levels, which play an extremely important part in the effectiveness of certain scenes in this film, stay deep and strong and don't break up or pixelate at all. There is some mild line shimmering in a couple of scenes but there aren't any issues with mpeg compression artifacts or serious edge enhancement. Color reproduction appears lifelike and accurate and there's a reasonably decent level of fine detail in both the foreground and the background of the image. Skin tones look healthy and realistic and overall the picture is generally quite sharp.

Sound:

The Korean Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS 5.1 Surround Sound tracks on this DVD are decent, save for one noticeable flaw that effects both mixes – the rears are way over used. Dialogue that should come at you only from the front instead at times comes from the front and the back or sometimes just the back of the soundstage, which produces some rather strange effects. Aside from that, the dialogue and sound effects are nice and clear and there's enough power in the lower end to make for a few decent jump scares throughout the film. The levels are well balanced and there aren't any problems with the performers getting buried in the sound effects or in the background score. Optional subtitles are supplied in both English and Spanish and they prove to be clean, clear, easy to read and free of any noticeable typographical errors.

Extras:

A collection of video interviews with the two main stars of the film, Shiun Hyun-Jun and Song Yoon-Ah, and the director, Yoo Sang-Gon start off the supplements. These are moderately interesting discussions on the making of the film, casting decisions, and what they were going for while putting this project together.

Once we're through with that, there's a segment entitled Face On, Face Off which is just a fancy title for what is essentially a collection of two different sets of outtakes from the making of the film. These are interesting to and compare to what we get in the final, finished version of the feature itself.

Finally, Face Value is a look behind the scenes at the making of the movie through some clips shot on set documenting the filming process. There's not a lot of context to this footage but you do get to spy on the filmmakers in a fly on the wall look at what went on behind the cameras as well as in front of them.

Rounding out the supplements are a still gallery, the film's theatrical trailer, and promo bits for other Tartan Asia Extreme DVD releases.

Final Thoughts:

Aside from some goofiness in the audio, this is a very solid release from Tartan for a film that falls victim to a few too many clichés. Face isn't a bad movie, but a lot of the scare tactics that it resorts to have been seen over and over again by this point and it certainly would have been a stronger film had they opted for a little more originality. That being said, the DVD looks good and has some quality supplements which makes this one very much worth a rental.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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