Jeremiah Kipp’s “Slapface” might sound familiar to some as it was first released in 2018 in its original form as a short film. The film has since been remastered and turned into a full-length feature film. The indie horror thriller flick was released for a second time in March of 2021 and has managed to make a commotion in the sci-fi movie market.
Slapface follows the story of two brothers, Tom who is played by producer Mike Manning and Lucas who is played by August Maturo. The boys are stricken with grief from the recent passing of both of their parents, and find themselves in danger once Lucas forms a twisted friendship with a supernatural creature who lives in the woods.
The name of the movie, ‘Slapface’ comes from the game the two brothers play together, which is used as a form of discipline. Lucas’s life is set at an all time low with the passing of his parents and the constant bullying at school by a group of girls played by Bianca and Chiara D’Ambrosio. Not to mention his hidden romance with Mirabelle Lee’s character Moriah, Lucas is desperate for friendship and a change in his life. Lucas finds himself befriending a suspicious creature of the name Virago, who is played by Lukas Hassel.
The friendship between Lucas and Virago quickly unfolds to be something more disturbing and dark. It is up to older brother Tom, his love interest and the town sheriff to put an end to the evil that has taken advantage of two grief stricken boys.
Mike Manning (Tom) was also a producer on this film teaming up with Jeremiah Kipp as lead director. What was created was a mix of both of their individual ideas and collaborated mastery. The entire process of putting together this story was brought together by Manning and Kipp. From casting, producing, directing and writing the director and actor duo did it all.
With the help of producers, Artisha Mann-Cooper, Nick Theurer and Joe Benedetto, Kipp explains that this collaboration by an actor and director is “encouraging” and considers it a key factor to their film’s success. One of the successes he recalls was casting lead character August Maruto, who was 12 years old at the first time of filming.
Manning and Maruto had both begun their acting careers as Disney stars. Maruto had a role in the Disney Channel Tv show Girl Meets World and Manning can be seen in the 2014 original movie Cloud 9. With both boys’ acting careers flourishing since then, Manning recalls his time as a Disney actor saying, “You have to accept that you go there to do the best you can, surrender to that world.”
Slapface explores the themes of grief and abuse, and how these two can cause a reaction between one another. Tom and Lucas are trying their best to navigate their new lives, while simultaneously protecting one another. The two can get caught up in violent ways of reacting that in turn illustrates the pain and misfortune that death brings along.
Speaking of the inevitable grief that accompanies a horror film, “I think grief does inform horror movies because we can’t abate it: we go to sleep at night, wake in the morning and we carry grief with us,” Kipp says. “It’s as haunting to Lucas and Tom as the monster in their space.”
The sci-fi thriller mixes realism with fantasy to create a dark masterpiece that has already left audiences wanting more. The full-length feature first debuted as the official selection at the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival in March 2021, viewers quickly expressed their admiration for Slapface. Here, the film acquired the Audience Award in the Thriller, Horror, and Sci-Fi category.
“The fan response was really positive and we can’t wait to share the film with the rest of the world,” Manning exclaims.
Critics also express their support, pointing out the film’s realistic undertones and odes to the modern world. Others praise the acting and directing, noting the superiority of the film despite its rather small budget and shooting locations.
With the combination of highly experienced actors and a passionate, well blended crew, Slapface continues to demand attention from critics and audiences alike since its release in March 2021. Though a global release date has yet to be announced, Manning and Kipp are ready for the world to experience the thrill that is Slapface.
Jane Owen, Publicist