Faults photo starrating-4stars.jpgAnsel Roth (Leland Orser) is “one of the world’s foremost authorities on mind control and cult organizations” or so he adamantly proclaims to a heckler at one of his poorly attended seminars. You see Ansel’s life has taken a downturn. He’s divorced, his TV show is canceled, and now he’s been reduced to shilling his new book in a conference room in a cheap hotel. “I can sign it for $5.”  It wasn’t always this way. His first book was a big hit. Unfortunately his former wife acquired the rights to it as part of their divorce settlement. Now he’s starting from ground zero with a new tome that hasn’t exactly burned up the bestseller list. His last intervention to help someone in a religious sect tragically resulted in their suicide. Because of this, when the parents (Chris Ellis & Beth Grant) of another member of a cult recruit him to deprogram their daughter, his first instinct is to disregard their request. But their persistence and the looming monetary debt he owes to his manager (Jon Gries) soon leads to a change of heart.

Faults carefully straddles the line between black comedy and cautionary tale. The chronicle begins rather playfully but as the story develops it becomes less and less so. By the conclusion, it becomes extremely serious without a hint of humor. The ending is actually rather chilling. “Faults” is the name of the cult. Ansel’s plan begins with kidnapping the parents’ daughter and bringing her to a sparsely decorated hotel room for deprogramming. This is where the majority of the action takes place. The narrative mostly consists of conversations designed to get to the root of her devotion to “Faults”.

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 to 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.



22 Responses to “Faults”

  1. The poster artwork is very similar to Birdman’s in my opinion. Can’t say I heard of this, but I like genre-bending films. I’m intrigued.


  2. Heard very little of this but what I have come across has been overwhelmingly positive. Look forward to possibly accessing it.


  3. I look forward to checking this out. Hope I can hack it! Great review.


  4. An interesting flick, for sure, but sometimes spins its web a bit too long. Nice review Mark.


  5. I was mesmerized by this movie. I could not stop watching. It was very well written and acted. Really enjoyed the ending. 4 stars.


  6. This sounds very interesting.


  7. GaryGreg828 Says:

    Just watched it. Great recommendation! I cracked up on the opening scene at the restaurant; especially when he poured ketchup onto the plate and started eating it and the manager took the plate away. LOL.

    And if I am not mistaken, wasn’t the father in “My Cousin Vinny”? “Hey, I got your money!”. lol. I think that was the guy.


    • Yes! Chris Ellis has been in a hundred pictures. He was in Days of Thunder, Addams Family Values, Apollo 13. They’re usually small, character roles. He played a priest in The Dark Knight Rises.

      I loved that opening scene too. Compare how silly that beginning is, with how serious the film became.


      • GaryGreg828 Says:

        Yeah I know, a complete contrast in mood and style from opening to close. I actually didn’t watch DOT, AF or A13, but now I remember him in Dark Knight Rises as the one arguing with Joseph Gordon Levitt at the bus. I totally didn’t recognize him as that guy, but for some reason I did in a film over 20 years old. lol.


  8. GaryGreg828 Says:

    PS: do you recognize the guy on the boat from “Dark Knight” that says he will blow up the other boat? The white, balding, middle aged guy?

    He was the guy on “Seinfeld” that Elaine was trying to rush to the airport so he’d get out of her apartment. lol.

    *I’m just assuming you follow “Seinfeld”. If not, you can discard this post. lol.


      • GaryGreg828 Says:

        Yeah. It’s funny if you go back and watch his part on Seinfeld, he looks different than in Dark Knight, but sounds just the same.


      • Why him? Did you just watch that episode?


      • GaryGreg828 Says:

        I think I was looking for a particular actor on “Dark Knight” for some reason and I skimmed most of their filmographies, and Doug Ballard was one and I saw he had been on Seinfeld and so I YouTubed the scene.

        *Also, the guard with the gun in the van w/ Gordon & Reese was one of the frat guys on the “Coors Light” commercials where they would use real press-conference footage of NFL coaches, but edit in their fake questions; those commercials were hilarious and I remember telling people that he was a good actor simply from those ads. Couple years later he’s in a small role in “Dark Knight” but haven’t heard much from him since; maybe he’s decided to pursue something else.


  9. Faults sounds like a fascinating film. I don’t know how it completely flew under my radar. Based on your review though, it seems like I definitely need to check it out.


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