Film Review by Kam Williams
Parents Hire Deprogrammer to Rescue Daughter from Cult in Psychological Thriller
Dr. Ansel Roth (Leland Orser) was once a world-renowned psychotherapist specializing in deprogramming. Trouble is, his career has been in sharp decline ever since a client’s child committed suicide while still in his care.
Presently, he’s been reduced to renting a ballroom at a low-rent hotel to give a lecture before hawking his new book “Sects, Cults and Mind Control.” He now delivers these talks more out of a need to pay the rent than a belief in the efficacy of his coercive methods of rescuing a person caught in the clutches of a charismatic megalomaniac. But that doesn’t stop Dr. Roth from springing into action when he’s approached for help by a couple attending the talk.
It seems that Evelyn (Beth Grant) and Terry’s (Chris Ellis) daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has cut herself off from the rest of the world for months since being brainwashed by a mysterious cult called Faults. The parents are so desperate they immediately agree to Ansel’s exorbitant fee despite the warning that his odds of success are only 50-50. After collecting a handsome advance, he proceeds to snatch Claire off the street into a van with the help of a couple of goons.
The plan is to restrain her in a remote motel for the five days it should take to undo the indoctrination. And while Ansel is alone in one room with Claire, her folks wait in the one right next-door, anxiously anticipating a happy reunion.
The plot thickens, however, as it becomes clear that increasingly-exasperated Ansel isn’t up to the task. To the contrary, it appears that Claire might even be getting the better of their intense sessions. Yet, the shrink arrogantly threatens to stop the sessions unless he’s paid the balance of his bill.
So unfolds Faults, an intriguing treat that walks a fine line between dark comedy and psychological thriller. The picture marks the feature-length writing and directorial debut of Riley Stearns whose real-life wife, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, squares-off here as Claire opposite her gifted co-star, Leland Orser.
Cooped up together in very close quarters, the two gradually ramp up the intensity in an ever-escalating game of cat-and-mouse vaguely evocative of Linda Blair and the Exorcist. Don’t be surprised if the tables are turned and the hunter is somehow bested by the game.
A mind is a terrible thing to lose!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 89 minutes
Distributor: Screen Media Films