Face Off: Judgement Day – Four Horsemen (Review)

Face Off - Season 9

The Face Off challenge this week started off in what appeared to be either an abandoned film set or a military  training  mock up of an Afghani village complete with bombed out cars, and this was the contestant’s place for inspiration.  The competitors had Judgement Day as the theme with the models to be turned into the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The episode started with the remaining contestants talking about The Gauntlet which was very intense. Nora talks of how tired she is and Evan says how scared he was at the bottom, but winning the last challenge has boosted his spirits.

McKenzie Westmore (looking brilliant in a blue leather jacket) and Glenn Hetrick meet the artists at the site and explain what is required. Two “teams” with individual creations of the four horsemen who (the contestants decide) have a common thread. Each competitor had to pick up a survival kit with the name of their character on it; War, Pestilence, Famine and Death.

Hetrick, who did the makeup for the 2010 film Legion outlined what the judges would be looking for and provided the group a few tips on how to be effective with their choices. Here is where each artist begins their process of creating a character, in this case an apocalyptic “horseman” and what they will bring to the table once sculpting starts.

It is interesting to see how each  person follows through with their vision.  Nora, after her initial enthusiasm “Hell to the yeah,” gets lost, as she puts it, in her own head. Evan actually comes over and re-vitalizes Nora by telling her that what she is doing looks pretty awesome and cool.

Face Off - Season 9
The judges agree with Evan’s assessment of Nora’s Horseman.

As the competitors work on the initial part of the process, sculpting, Michael Westmore comes around and makes suggestions and offers pointers to help the artists to work toward perfecting their creations.  Each step toward the actual application to the models shows how each artist handles the pressure of “forced” creativity.

Speaking of the models, each artist reacts differently to the “real” models who ultimately become the creations. Nora, Stephanie aka Stevie, and Meg aka Cupcake Meg, all have a very personal touch. The men vary but Evan appears to be pretty dismissive of his models.  Nora, for instance, thanks her model “Thanks buddy, you’re awesome.” A nice human touch.

After her initial stress-out, Nora settles in and it is then Evan’s turn to worry. Stevie starts to panic at the amount of time her chest piece is taking to construct on day two and Kevon changes his mind about where he is going with his version of Pestilence. While he is pleased with the direction it turns out that he went too far.

Face Off - Season 9
Stevie and that chest piece.
Face Off - Season 9
Kevon with his version of Pestilence.
Face Off - Season 9
Ben’s War almost costs him dearly.

At the end of the show all of the horsemen are looked at by the judges and  Meg, Stevie,  Jordan and Scott are saved. Nora, Evan, Ben and Kevon are left as the “best and the worst” to explain their thought processes.

Ultimately Evan and Nora were the best, with Evan winning the challenge. Ben came close to being sent home but it was Kevon’s horseman who did not fit the theme.

Face Off shows all the creative processes of the contestants along with their enthusiasm, doubts and fears. What makes this “reality” show work so well is exemplified in this week’s challenge. Evan, who won the competition this week, was plagued with self doubt about his paint work. Repeatedly going back and adding, highlighting and “trying to save” what he thought was not good enough.

It worked and he won.  While there are firm favorites, (the three women on the show are all this viewers favorites) all the artists come across as talented and nice people. Each one has their own skills and learn to enhance others as they go along. All support one another.

Kevon’s departure did not result in a long face on his part. The young man viewed the whole experience as a learning one and went away with a smile on his face. Face Off is entertainment of a different color, almost classifying as “edutainment” for those cinephiles who adore all the “behind the scenes” type of information shared by this show.

Face Off - Season 9
The judges examine Meg’s horseman.

The show airs Tuesdays on SyFy and it is hard not to fall in love with these talented and creative competitors a little.  It is also hard to imagine a nicer group of judges than these three professionals who, each week, show the contestants an incredible amount of compassion and empathy. Tune in and be amazed.



Face Off: The Gauntlet – Sh*t Just Got Real (recap/review)

Face Off - Season 9

The first ever gauntlet was held on Face Off Tuesday and as the line from Bad Boys II goes, “Sh*t just got real.” As the episode started the only contestant who was not “spooked” by the news of this game changing entree was Nora.  This young makeup artist’s attitude was “bring it on” leading this viewer to give her handle of “Nora the Roara.”

There were others who were not totally “freaked out” by the challenge thrown up this week, but it was the young Hewitt woman who stepped up to this tossed spanner in the works and proved that attitude  counts as heavily as talent.

The Gauntlet was set up in three stages. Each stage was weighted heavier than the last and it was the cumulative total of each winning entry that ruled who won and who left to go home. After McKenzie Westmore announced the rules and how the challenge would be judged, Nora (in the recorded “asides” used throughout the series) promised a fight to the death and ended her statement with:

“Let’s Go. Thunderdome.”

In the first of the three challenges, the artists had to do “exposure” makeup. Quoting films like Cast Away, Alive and 127 Hours McKenzie stated that  the test was to recreate the realistic looks associated with someone being stranded in the elements.  Each contestant then chose their models. Winner of the first stage of the gauntlet was Nora; her attention to detail was head and shoulders above the competition, although Jordan Patton came close.)

The second challenge was to take already applied prosthetics and do realistic makeup for the characters that the models were meant to represent.  Kevon Ward won the second challenge with his superior paintwork. Ward was surprised and pleased at the win.

Face Off - Season 9
Kevon Ward with his third challenge entry.

At the end of stage two of The Gauntlet, Evan fell into the last place slot of number 9. He was not terribly pleased but despite being very concerned at the amount of models on hand for the last challenge, Hedges went on to win that particular round.


Face Off - Season 9
Evan Hedges with his winning combo for Challenge Three.

The last challenge dealt out  a huge dose of reality. The challenge was to create a main, or “hero” model and then do two “background” models. In the business, it is explained, most makeup artists will do a number of models and not just one main. This understandably shook all of the contestants, although Nora, once again, rose to the challenge with a can-do attitude.

While Evan won the last round, the overall winner was Nora.

Face Off - Season 9
Nora the Roara wins the first ever Gauntlet on Face Off.

The last three, on the leaderboard at the end of the challenge and the episode were Stephanie “Stevie” Calabrese and “cupcake” Meg Wilbur along with Jasmine Ringo.

Face Off - Season 9
Meg Wilbur at the bottom but not out.

Jasmine was the one to go home this week and as usual Ms. Westmore seemed saddened by the loss of another talented artist. The show this week did not feature Michael Westmore, McKenzie’s father as the format was different.

Face Off - Season 9
Stephanie “Stevie” Calabrese also close to leaving but not out.

Regardless of the “nonappearance” of the “master” Face Off held their first ever gauntlet and it was brilliant to watch. Each of the stages put different pressures on the contestants and, as usual, it was fascinating to see the thought process behind each creation.

This is the only “reality” show worth watching at the moment as it does not deal with “personalities” vying for attention through banal and non existent talents. Face Off  showcases real people with real talent, a gift for creating magic of a special sort. The series airs Tuesdays on SyFy.

Face Off - Season 9
Jasmine Ringo, out but not down.

Face Off: SyFy Reality Proves Making Up is Still Fun

Face Off - Season 9
Having only become aware of Face Off last year after meeting the delightful Alana Rose from season three and the equally delightful Keaghlan Ashely from season seven at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con in 2014, it was impossible not to watch the show when it aired and cheer Ms Ashley on, both in print and as a viewer. Host McKenzie Westmore is one of the most empathetic presenters on any reality show on television. As well as Ms Westmore’s apparent caring attitude her father, the award winning Michael Westmore (And if you have to ask what he has won awards for, why on Earth are you watching the show?) appears to offer advice and guidance.

There is a panel of experts that includes Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page along with the odd guest expert who judge and/or offer advice.

Face Off shows just what goes into all that creature feature makeup and the thought process, application and magical transformations that Hollywood makeup artists use for all their creations (not just the monster makeup.) Watching Keaghlan Ashely and Alana Rose turn “normal” looking people into fairies and other sprite-like creatures live in Vegas was fascinating and it is equally so watching these talented artists do so on television weekly.

Face Off - Season 9
Two beautiful ladies – McKenzie Westmore and judge Ve Neill

Sadly, this writer missed the first eight episodes hence missing out on any possible favorites to follow along and root for. It says much for the SyFy program that even not meeting any of the contestants, in the flesh, so to speak, one can still find competitors to get attached to as each one shares their thoughts freely with the viewer. Personalities of each artist are amicable enough that the viewer feels badly whenever one is voted off.

*Sidenote* I was so upset when my favorite Keaghlan was voted off last year before the final I stopped watching! This is one of the few reality shows on television that features wildly talented individuals who perform a sort of magic. Turning people into aliens, ghostly specters, or as in the last episode, men into women as a tribute to the golden days of yore and William Shakespeare. Back in the day when ladies were not allowed on stage…or women who were not ladies, for that matter.

In All That Glitters the competitors left in the show had to take classic female Shakespearean characters, Hecate (which was continually mispronounced), Joan of Arc, et al. and recreate them. The trick was that this week they took very masculine male models and transformed them into these feminine creatures of fiction. This was the challenge and some did better than others.

The magic of Face Off is not in the winning or losing, it is in the revelations of the thought process, what prosthetics are needed/used, and what makeup/color is used for each creation. The format of each episode is the same. The competitors get their brief, pick their assignments and get to work.

Face Off - Season 9
Stevie with her model who looks amazingly like Scarlett Johansson with a tan…

Segments of the show are split into workshop days and each artist is given expert advice from Michael Westmore. By the end of the program the results are judged and after the “safe” contestants are sent back, the last four (best and worst) are left to explain/defend their work.

Megan “Meg” Wilbur won this week with her creation, Stephanie “Stevie” Calabrese was “runner up,” and sadly Ricky Vitus lost and was voted out. (Evan Hedges stayed in by the skin of his teeth.) Somewhat amazingly all of the artists managed to make their manly-men look like ladies. While Evan’s looked a little less than perfect, Ricky’s was deemed the “worst.”

Face Off - Season 9
Ricky Vitus was voted off but not broken down when he left.

SyFy’s Face Off airs Tuesdays on the network. All those who are fans of what goes into the creation of fantasy cinematic visions, whether they be cute hobbits or ‘Oribble Orcs” should tune in.

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