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Faults explores the cult dynamic to fascinating effect, bolstered by an outstanding cast and sharp work from writer-director Riley Stearns.
All Critics (36)
| Top Critics (9)
| Fresh (33)
| Rotten (3)
By the time the film gets where it's going, viewers may identify more than they expect with those who've been controlled by others with hidden agendas.
Its final reveal is the sort of beautiful Twilight Zone fillip you see coming only about 10 seconds before it arrives, and I recommend seeing the movie without reading anything further about it: The payoff is that good.
The strongest aspects of "Faults" stem from its completely unpredictable atmosphere. You might anticipate the twists before they arrive, but not the way they feel.
"Faults" is a richly-textured movie that concerns the weird space between thinking you know what you're doing, and actually knowing what you're doing.
The wan drama is enlivened by bursts of black comedy, some bits more effective than others, and though it ultimately disappoints, there's promise in the understated creepiness of Riley Stearns' debut feature.
While "Faults" glances at the narcissism of cult leaders, its most penetrating investigation is into the root emptiness within disciples, the desperate hunger to relinquish personal initiative.
Orser and Winstead don't just seem ever-present with each other in their spats, but play up the physicality of their characters, whether it's Orser's shrunken sadsack demeanor or Winstead's expressive eyes that speak.
Faults is a resourceful black comedy that works effectively and never strays away from its pedigree of outrageous misfortune. This is one psychological character study that demonstrates its motivation for unconventional strife with devilish conviction.
Director Riley Stearns' new film is a conceptually adventurous black comedy about the world of cults, making for a metaphysical thriller that is captivating from the very start.
If you are open to storytelling via character building sharply explained through performance and dialogue - then give way to Faults.
Stearns crafts a slow-forming film, establishing atmosphere and tension.
Faults is a taught and charismatic work, and also the latest film to tackle the subject of cults in a quietly earnest way.
I'm kinda surprised that this movie sort of snuck underneath the radar. Yes, the film was really well-reviewed among critics, and audiences too if the scores on this site are to be believed, but it just never seemed to impact as far as word-of-mouth goes. Movies like The Guest, You're Next or Starry Eyes, while all independent films, benefited from word of mouth on social media, blogs, etc. Not saying this film is similar in structure and thematic, but people that liked those aforementioned films are the same audience that this movie would appeal to. So it's surprising no one really talked about this movie, particularly when it's so damn good. I don't wanna say that the reason the film didn't really haven any word-of-mouth, to my knowledge, is the fact that the film is a little more 'talky', but I did find it a little more psychological as opposed to films where there's a lot more going in the same amount of time. Nothing about the film surprised me in terms of going to unexpected places, like I knew at least the main 'plot twist', if you will, but I still do like how the film played with your expectations in how it was getting to that conclusion. This might sound like a cliche, but it's about the journey and not necessarily the destination. And the film was really smart in how it completely switched both characters from one end of the spectrum to another. Ansel Roth is a character who has pretty much lost everything after the suicide of a woman whom he tried to deprogram. His wife has left him, he's lost his show, his reputation is in shambles. He is a broken man and, really, if you look at where the film ended up and what Ira's intentions were, then you know that choosing Ansel for whatever Ira's motives were was a perfect move. Cause Ansel is the man that can change the perception about Faults cult and the film, really, is Ira's manipulation of Ansel to get him to, pretty much, join their cult. Plain and simple. It was a pretty ingenious way to tell the story and I thought it worked because the character development and writing is really strong. And the acting is excellent as well. Leland Orser, who plays Ansel, has this weariness about him, like the entire weight of the world, or at least his own guilt over his actions, is completely dragging him down and destroying his life and his reputation as an expert on cults and how to deprogram people. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also fantastic in the movie and Claire's transformation throughout the film is really interesting to see. I think the film might be accused by some of moving at a slow pace and I can certainly see and sympathize with that. The pieces of this film's puzzle, really, start to come together when there's 30 or so minutes left. This means that close to an hour of film has already gone by. I think that might bother some people, and I can't blame them, but it didn't really bother me because I knew that all of this set-up was gonna end up playing out in the climax of the film in a satisfactory fashion. I have no problem with a more deliberate pace if it ends up being to the film's benefit in the end. But, really, it's all about the character. It's all about Ansel and Claire and their interaction, yes, Ira's manipulation and ultimate indoctrination of Ansel is at the center of the story, but you don't get there without Claire and Ansel building their relationship throughout the movie, peeling back the layers of both Claire's and Ansel's lives. It's all important and it's all relevant to where this is heading. In many ways, the film really is a disturbing look at how cults work and how they try to break you away from everything you once knew and completely devote your time and attention to them. It might not be disturbing in the traditional sense, but there's something believable about how the film plays out. So, if you couldn't tell, I really liked this movie a lot. Great acting and really smart writing make this movie into a supremely interesting experience. It's definitely one of those sleeper movies. I'd definitely recommend it.
After a enduring a good movies drought for a few months, I had the great luck of picking this from my lengthy Netflix queue. Suspenseful, gripping, and cerebral, this is the best psychological thriller I've seen since Headhunters or Jen Lynch's Surveillance. The main character is sadly, starkly real: a man who's dedicated his life to de-brainwashing cult members and writing books about cults that now finds himself in severe dire straits, desperate for money and diminished from his past success. He reluctantly takes a case from an aging couple who claims their daughter has been brainwashed. Soon, his psychic space and hers (the daughter's) blend, and he loses grip of reality. He's a man used to unusual territory, but this is a new era of weird, unusual, and sketchy for this old pro. A Must See
Intelligent and gripping, the kind of well-constructed character study that keeps us always intrigued trying to figure out who is really in control of the situation, and it has two excellent performances to hold it all together as it shows the imprisoning influence of beliefs on a weak mind.
The success of Faults is the result of a brilliant screenplay. The claustrophobic surroundings and extended cinematic takes add to the dialogue heavy drama. The interactions of the two principals uncover intriguing discoveries. To go into more details would be to spoil the movie, but writer/director Riley Stearns has written a fascinating script and extracted the best performances I have ever seen from these two talented performers. Character actor Leland Orser is probably best known as a recurring part on the television show ER. Here is given a rare starring role and he makes the most of this compelling cult expert. He has this hapless quality that grows more self assured when he is in his element. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who is the wife of the director, is phenomenal as well. There is a blankness o her expressions where you're never really sure where her head is at. She has this weird mix of vulnerability and calm throughout. This is very much a non-traditional horror film of sorts. It sets up a troubling premise and then follows through to a surprising twist ending with a point. Faults is a rewarding experience.
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