Faye is Introspective Self-Help Horror

Image courtesy of ShineHouse Group

Somewhere in the middle of Sarah Zanotti’s one-woman production, the movie cuts to her titular character Faye in front of a red curtain as she begins to discuss principles of the fourth dimension. Faye never says that’s the case, only referring to time as a non-linear experience. It’s as philosophical as the movie gets when discussing the neverending grieving process. A seeming spiral where acceptance one day could lead back to bargaining the next, brought on by a momentary lapse of memory where you find yourself right back in that moment, reliving the trauma. The profundity of Zanotti’s statement, delivered in much broader terms, gives the viewer a lot to think about in the second half of the film, especially when it comes to regret.  

Faye sits in front of a red curtain
Image courtesy of ShineHouse Group

Faye begins by watching our singular protagonist speaking to an empty seat in her car as if her husband is sitting in it. It’s clear to the audience she has run the gamut of psychological heartbreak. Instructed by her editor to get away for a minute and write chapters for her next self-help book, Faye is given the keys to her cabin on the Louisiana bayou. The location’s exterior has eerie similarities to Amazon Prime’s Tell Me Your Secrets as she arrives at the cabin on stilts, but that’s where the similarity ends. Once inside, there’s a feeling of uneasiness, but not a particularly horrifying one. Faye is anxious and compulsive, and it’s instilled into the audience subtly as she explores the location, smooths wrinkles from the bed, and finally drowns her nervous energy in a bottle of wine. 

The film is split up into five chapters, and on occasion, we see Faye sitting, as if on stage, in front of the aforementioned red curtain. These monologuing segments pair well with the film’s story and offer insight into Zanotti’s character as she navigates through the five stages of grief. Alone in the cabin, inexplicable things begin happening that cause her to question if the place could be haunted. Like any amount of depression, the force starts small, increasing with Faye’s lack of distractions and the awareness of her isolation. Every night, the force gets stronger, as if Faye is subconsciously acknowledging what she’s lost, especially on the first night as she lies in a bed by herself. The ghostly presence eventually appears to Faye as her doppelganger, but this isn’t your average ghost story and what transpires is a reckoning she’s been denying for a long time.

Faye extends her arms and laughs toward the sky at the kitchen table of a cabin
Image courtesy of ShineHouse Group

After two years of quarantines and lockdowns, Faye feels like a revelatory film that understands the triumphs and pitfalls of inward retreat and seclusion. Some thrived when the entire world was forced to slow down, but those who could no longer avoid a self-inventory fell into bouts of anxiety and depression. The way we view celebrities is with the attributions of the gods, and oh, how society loves to see them fall more than see them succeed. Humanity is often taken out of the equation, replaced by pictures of idyllic lifestyles or questionable behavior. People sometimes judge without any real perspective, expecting a comedian to always be funny or, in Faye’s case, a self-help guru to be the picture of perfect mental health. In a way, Faye is a monster movie of Frankenstein proportions, with a monster that is thoroughly misunderstood.

It’s not all heavy symbolism in Faye. In fact, Zanotti imbues Faye with enough humor and cynicism that there are many moments I found myself laughing out loud. I didn’t expect that in the film, but the character and story become very relatable through the extreme emotional swings we’ve all encountered after a soul-crushing loss. Combating her ignored depression with jokes is a very human defense to that type of pain. Zanotti creates a fully rounded character on an introspective journey, and we all want to see her succeed, mainly because we’ve all experienced the futility of that place. 

A hand grips a bloody bathtub
Image courtesy of ShineHouse Group

On a technical end, I’m a huge believer that when an idea is portrayed on the screen in a unique and interesting manner, the production value becomes secondary. That being said, there are moments in Kd Amond’s film where the audience notices the grain of the iPhone 11 cameras the movie was shot on as well as the occasionally poor lighting. This is an obvious low-budget endeavor, but in its defense, plenty of Hollywood films look great and lack substance; not all of them are as memorable as Faye. It’s excessive nit-picking, but on the flip-side of that, there are plenty of shots that indicate Amond is more than apt behind a camera.  

What Faye achieves isn’t slight. It’s the first movie to only feature one actress for the entirety of its runtime, and it’s Zanotti’s powerhouse performance that makes the film work. Amond and Zanotti’s script is even better, making Faye an affecting psychological feature with scares and heart that’s imaginatively sharp, funny, and insightful. It isn’t the type of horror film hardcore gorehounds will be into, but fans with an open mind and respect for intimate and wholly original independent films will behold a rare gem of the genre that doesn’t come around often enough.

Faye releases on VOD platforms on May 10th. 

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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