Celebrity-fan encounters have become the internet’s bread-and-butter in 2023; every user-driven rabbit hole from Reddit to the gossip pages of Instagram (shoutout to deuxmoi) is full of supposed insider info on who’s a sweetheart, and who’s an IRL monster. There’s almost a currency to having met a famous person, and everyone online, anonymous or not, is keen to sell their story – mostly just for clout over any actual cash. So whether you’re an actor or a musician, or even just a familiar-face from a meme, the message is the same: play nice, or be prepared to face the social media backlash.

It’s a dangerous world to navigate, especially for working actors like Faceless After Dark star Jenna Kanell, who co-writes this sharp, scathing home invasion thriller about just that, an often deadly relationship with the spotlight.

Former Hollywood final girl Bowie (Kanell) is still followed everywhere she goes, not only by the crummy killer clown movie she made for the paycheque (and its truly cringeworthy one-liner), but also by the endless army of sexually-aggressive admirers it inspired. All of whom seem to be hiding behind not-so-anonymous Instagram accounts. And when one fan oversteps, following Bowie home in a movie-accurate clown mask, it sets off an unstoppable chain reaction of blood and dismemberment, that proves once and for all, she is far from the victim she played on screen.


It’s a truly twisted and twisty little psycho-horror, that bends far beyond simple classification, seemingly fired from a very dark, very personal place. Having starred in both Terrifier movies (huge cult-favourites among slasher fans, that just so happen to platform an equally deranged killer clown) it feels like there’s more than a modicum of truth to Kanell’s character here. And director Raymond Wood is equally unflinching with the violence, carefully (and successfully) walking that very ambitious tightrope between visceral, in-your-face gore, and just plain depraved all-out nastiness, echoing the gnarliness (and catharsis) of Takashi Miike’s Audition, or Ivo van Aart’s The Columnist.

Obviously such things make for a (deservedly) intense watch, and one that feels brutally, almost lovingly, honest. Kanell and co-writer Todd Jacobs’ script pulls no punches, plunging us face-first into the misogynistic viscera of being not just a female-presenting actor in the spotlight, but one at a very specific level of fame.

Bowie’s not as widely-loved and world-renowned as her jet setting girlfriend (Danielle Lyn), nor is she financially supported by a deep-pocketed daddy in banking like her best pal (Danny Kang). She has to work to keep the lights on, and the only way through is by cosying up to what few fans she has; grinning through the Cameos and fan-conventions, and trying her best not to violently snap when they start forcing their way into her home.


If it feels like I’m being deliberately vague with some of the plot, it’s very much on purpose, and not because there isn’t one. Considering how psychological this thriller often gets, Wood thankfully never loses the film’s grounding, even as a second act shock is very cleverly used to catapult the whole thing into a very different, much more uncomfortable, but much more revealing sub-genre entirely.

Because when all is said and done, Faceless After Dark turns the tables in more ways than one. It’s the sort of horror that’s best approached cold, letting Kanell’s vicious, wickedly likeable performance completely take the reins, darting in every direction but the one you most expect. Far from straightforward, and deliberately tough and morally dubious at times, but incredibly rewarding by its end – a razor sharp snip to the testicles of normalised online misogyny.

Faceless After Dark was screened as part of FrightFest 2023.

Faceless After Dark
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faceless-after-dark-review-frightfest-2023A blunt, brash, beautifully acerbic swipe at the dark side of celebrity, and the real life moral muddiness that follows being a working actor in 2023.