Face Off: Sinister Showdown Part 2 (Review)

Face Off - Season 10

The “Face Off” season 10 finale “Sinister Showdown Part Two” proved a brilliant point; specialist makeup only  really works as part of a whole. Certainly the look, on its own, is impressive and does look “real”  in the flesh, so to speak.  However, the entire concept of the show is “movie” makeup and the last challenge, the actual filming of the creations, manages to show this brilliantly.

It is how the characters look in the final product that counts. While the judges normally look at the finished creations up close in the earlier challenges, they see them on-screen for this last effort.

The three finalists all created great demons and possessed characters as mandated by the challenge.  Each team’s effort looked brilliant, both in the screen tests and under natural light as they walked to the sets.

“Hellhole,” the basic title of each short film, used three different directors for each vision. The script came from a Blumhouse Productions book of stories from a short story by Christopher Denham.  Jason Blum, the chap who puts the Blum in Blumhouse, provided the script source material and judged with the series panel of regulars.

Face Off - Season 10
(l-r) McKenzie Westmore, Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, Neville Page, Jason Blum

Last week, “Sinister Showdown Part One” saw the directors, Bryce McGuire, John Wynn and Ryan Spindell spend time with their respective teams and work on concept and then perform a screen-test on the creations.

Out of the trio of artists left, Rob had feedback from his director, McGuire, that resulted in enormous amounts of work to fix the problems. Walter’s creation was loved on sight by Spindell and Wynn wanted very little to be changed on Melissa’s characters.

Rob historically performs better under pressure.  While all the creatures looked brilliant, it was the youngest contestant’s demon and possessed character that leapt off the screen in the final product. The series judges watched the movies as they were being shot and all the entries looked spectacular “in the process.”

Walter’s huge vine creature was impressively scary, as as Melissa’s cyclops creature,  but it was Rob’s horned demon and his “Japanese-type” possessed female (term coined by Glenn Hetrick) that won at the end of the day.

Face Off - Season 10
(l-r) Rob Seal, Kaleb Lewis
Face Off - Season 10
Anna Cali

The fun part of the “Face Off” season finale is the artists and their reactions to being part of the movie-making world. This is, after all, their main motivation for competing, over and above the awards; the money, car and makeup.  The enthusiasm is infectious as is the excitement felt by the contestants.

All three were ecstatic about seeing their work being filmed and then watching the final product with all the CG  as well as  FX and cohesive storyline and dialogue.  It is this part that proves just how essential the entire package of lighting, atmosphere, camera angles and direction are to the characters created by the artists.

Walter, Melissa and Rob created impressively scary creations and all looked  brilliant during the filming portion. However, it was the magic of the seemingly picky McGuire that made Rob’s “less is more” creations literally “pop” off the screen.

Face Off - Season 10
Rob Seal, Melissa Ebbe, Walter Welsh

Walter’s creature lost something in the CG heavy short helmed by Spindell. The ‘B’ movie  FX and overly bright lighting  took away from both his characters effectiveness despite his demon being terrifying in the final shot.

Melissa’ creation was brilliant but camera angles let the side down here.

It was Rob’s perfect makeup combined with McGuire’s spot on lighting, camera angles, framing and focus on the minimal; a look Bryce  asked for after the screen test, that sold the artist’s work.

Rob Seal won this challenge not just for his superlative makeup work, but also for getting a director who understood how to marry up the entire sum of parts to make a brilliant whole.  Great season 10 finale “Face Off.”

Face Off: Sinister Showdown: Part 1 ( Recap/Review)

Face Off - Season 10

Face Off entered its two part season finale with Sinister Showdown: Part 1.  Rob Seal, Walter Welsh and Melissa Ebbe are the three finalists who will face the last challenge of the season.  Working off an idea from low budget horror producer Jason Blum (who will also be a guest judge) three short horror films will be produced.

The basic idea is that  a couple unleash a demon and it attempts to possess and destroy them.  New generation film directors:  John Wynn, Bryce McGuire and Ryan Spindell have written their versions of the plot line and are randomly assigned to the three finalists.

The trio are then allowed to pick their teams and some familiar faces reappear. The teams are:

Rob: Kaleb Lewis and Anna Call.

Melissa: Yvonne Cox and Jordan Althaus.

Walter: Robert Lindsay and Melanie Licata.

Face Off - Season 10

The teams meet with their directors to talk demons and themes.  Ryan Spindell’s script is titled “Hell Hole”  and he works with Walter and his group.  The demon is a “harvest demon.”  The keywords are vines, earth and wood.

Bryce McGuire is teamed with Rob and his crew. The theme is oil and a horned demon appears when a couple dig a hole in the ground. The keywords for his creature are pale, dry, old and cracked. No goats.

Finally, Melissa is joined by John Wynn (who easily has a script  with the best character  name; “Mr. Sticks” – an evil possessed doll) his demon is a chupacabra type released when the doll is burnt. The keyword is Cyclops and possession where the man is turning into the new “Mr. Sticks.

With the design phase finished it is time for the final Face Off contestants to move into the lab for sculpting and molds.  Melissa takes the face on her creation.  Rob decides on a face piece and a chest piece along with a cowl piece with horns.  Walter leaves Mel to do the possession makeup while he and Robert tackle the demon.

As the trio and their teams get started Michael Westmore turns up with McKenzie and he announces that they have a surprise for the finalists. Amusingly, the trio all believe that this “new” thing is going to be something  bad that will  make more work for them. It is instead, good news as Lois Burwell (occasional panel judge and Oscar winning makeup legend) will be giving the hopefuls some tips.

Rob is overjoyed:

“She is just so cute and British.”

After the tips and suggested tweaks, the teams move into high gear and Rob, as he has done in the past, starts his sculpt all over again.  He opts to use the Rhinoceros as his template.

Face Off - Season 10

The models come in and Walter uses this opportunity to create his “secret” weapon; teeth for the tree demon.  The trio’s teams rush through the application process and Walter is overjoyed at Robert’s use of moss on the demon.

Melissa gets stressed and “frazzled” but her team manages to get through the massive paint job. All three head into final phase before the screen tests. Melissa is disappointed with the overall effect.

At the screen test,  John is pleased with her efforts and his notes are minimal. Melissa is excited to see her creation on film.  The things that Wynn wants changed are the chest piece, goo out of the demon’s mouth and more reddening around  the eye area.

The possessed creation also needs more “Mr. Sticks” make up.  These changes are not too much in the scheme of things and it appears that John is happy with Melissa’s overall vision.

Face Off - Season 10

Walter and his team have brilliant feedback from Ryan who loves everything but is worried about the temporary vines on the tree demon.  With the possessed woman, Spindell wants the make up scaled back a bit.  Michael Westmore points out some possible problem areas, like “nose-shine”  and  Walter is pleased at the feedback.

Face Off - Season 10

Lastly Rob and his team realize they have problems with the cowl before they even put their creations in front of the camera and Bryce. McGuire asks for a plethora of changes which will mean re-sculpting and re-molding.  Not only does he not like the demon but the director does not like the possession makeup either.

Rob is massively stressed at the amount of work these changes will require and he is “freaking out.”

This first part of the final challenge of Face Off follows the formula of filming the last test and having three guest directors in to collaborate with the artists.  The theme of horror is a good choice as is having Jason Blum from Blumhouse Productions  as a guest judge. Horror is often the firs step taken by any newcomer in the business.

Looking at the creations so far, before their final changes, it appears that Walter may just squeak past Melissa. Rob has his work cut out for him and while this could cost him the contest, the artist has proven that he works well under pressure and has done in the past.

The next time the finalists meet the directors will be on the day they shoot the short horror films.  The finales of the series are always great in terms of excitement levels of the contestants and the opportunity for them to see how their creatures look on-screen.

The Face Off season 10 finale concludes April 13 on SyFy. Tune in and see if your favorite wins.


Face Off: Skull Island: Reign of Kong – Semi-Final Stress (Review)

Face Off had its semi-finale center on a new attraction at Universal Orlando Resort; “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.” With a grand prize of the winner being among the first people to go through the new “ride” and an all expenses paid trip to Orlando, stress was the keyword for all four contestants.

Face Off - Season 10

Face Off had its semi-finale center on a new attraction at Universal Orlando Resort; “Skull Island: Reign of Kong.”  With a grand prize of the winner being among the first people to go through the new “ride” and an all expenses paid trip to Orlando, stress was the keyword for all  four contestants.

The challenge was laid by McKenzie Westmore with help from the executive producer from Universal Creative whose team will bring the giant King Kong to life for the new attraction; Mike West.  After explaining the background to the island and it’s occupants, the contestants moved on to develop their evolved “dinosaurs.”

Each hopeful had issues this week with their creations. Either because it was the finale or because of the immense task in front of them. Mel had to start over (twice), Rob ran out of time, Walter broke his creature’s  wings and Mellisa may have been the only hopeful who did not exhibit any symptoms of stress.

The Orlando  attraction is due to open this summer and West was quite excited about the project and the challenge itself.

Face Off - Season 10

One day one, Mel started over and suffered from a case of constant “second  guessing.” Rob spent so much time on his creation of scales that he ran out of time for other things on his character.  By the end of day one, Mel had not completed her groundwork. Day two saw  her start over, again.

Face Off - Season 10

Melissa was the only contestant who was not unhappy with anything to do with the progress of her creation. Rob  worried that the amount of time spent on scales had left him little time to paint and finish off his creature. He was right.

Walter manages to overcome his annoyance at the broken wing spring and Mel, despite starting over twice, almost managed to stay in the competition.

All of the hopefuls stepped up to the bar and even though Rob did not finish his creation, his prior three wins and the brilliant sculpt work on his character’s scales keeps him in for the finale.

Face Off - Season 10

The judges had a tough choice this week as all the contestants did well.  All agreed that Melissa’s creation was top-notch, so much so that she won the prize of the Orlando trip.

Before sending Mel home, Glenn Hetrick explained that the quality of her work on the latest challenge made it very difficult to pick who was sent home.

One comic moment was the monster noise made by Walter’s creature. Glenn loved the squeaky roar and declared it his favorite.   After sending Mel home, the remaining three were told a little about the next challenge and a very special guest.

Face Off - Season 10

Melissa was almost was excited at this week’s Face Off challenge as she was at the last one.  This time, however, she was in the groove and knocked it out the park.  Rob managed to impress the judges enough that despite his not finishing the work, he stayed in the contest and  drew massive praise from the panel.

In reality, all four of the finalist were praised at the quality of their work and it should be interesting to see what will occur in the last episode/challenge of the season.  Each one thus far has stretched the artists and their capabilities.

Face Off - Season 10
Pictured: (l-r) Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, Neville Page

The season 10 finale airs next  Wednesday on SyFy.



Face Off: The Art of Warcraft – MMO Delight (Recap/Review)

In Face Off this week it was The Art of Warcraft that the final five had to tackle. The MMO delight of Walter was apparent but no where near the exuberant level of “nerding out” that Melissa displayed. McKenzie even remarked on the high level excitement that the contestant was showing.


 Face Off - Season 10In Face Off this week it was The Art of Warcraft that the final five had to tackle. The MMO delight of Walter was apparent but no where near the exuberant level of “nerding out” that Melissa displayed. McKenzie even remarked on the high level excitement that the contestant was showing.

Walter revealed that he had played the online MMO for years and Melissa was a huge fan also having played the game, sadly neither Yvonne, Mel or Rob had any experience of the online phenomenon.  This week’s challenge was obviously a bit of publicity for the game-based film Warcraft  which is due out June this year.

One of the film’s stars, Robert Kazinsky (Pacific Rim, True Blood) sat as a judge on the panel and while he may have been a little “Simon Cowell” as an expert on the game and its world, Kazinsky made a great addition to the show. He was also an enthusiastic fan of the game.

As Ms. Westmore explained the premise of the challenge, and mentioned the film attached to the game, she brought out the game’s senior art director Chris Robinson. He explained what the game was and the characteristics of the creatures that the final five had to choose from.

Robinson was also on hand to help the contestants, allowing them to bounce ideas off him and to offer advice. The senior art director was also there to help the artists maintain the theme of the world’s verse.  Mel was the first contestant that Chris spoke to and she had a plethora of questions as she was not a World of Warcraft devotee.

Rob hated the cowl he started making and he decided to move past the thing and focus on the face. Walter was happy with what he had made thus far and Michael Westmore arrived with MacKenzie.  After dispensing advice Michael left and Rob announces that he hates everything he has developed so far.

On day two, Rob has an epiphany and scraps the cowl. Mel joins her fellow artist in the decision to alter her design as does Yvonne. Melissa has a disastrous turn with the hand mold and she loses valuable time, and fingers, by having to chisel out her molds.

Walter makes his tail and Mel films him wearing the appendage and despite feeling silly, he is pleased with the result. Rob experienced more disaster as his broken horn prosthetic is not going well.

Rob is still stressed out as the mold process is proving to be just as difficult on other prosthetics.  Melissa also has more problems with her molds.  Mel gets her groove on by adding yet another mohawk hairdo and Yvonne plans to do the same.

The five put the final touches on their paint and makeup and Rob is disgusted with his creation. Last looks sees Melissa and the rest rushing to finalise their visions and bring everything together.


Face Off - Season 10
(l-r) Glenn Hetrick, Ve Neill, Neville Page, Robert Kazinsky

Kazinsky may be blunt-ish in terms of what does not fit in the World of Warcraft verse but for the characters created that do fit, he is full of praise. He did not think that Rob’s creation was reflective of the verse but he did admit earlier that this “bi-pedal cow” had a regal look because of the proficiency of the makeup.

Yvonne was the disappointment this week. The three series judges were not impressed and neither was the guest judge.  Yvonne wound up on the bottom and ironically was joined by the uber excited Melissa.

The top two looks were Rob’s “cow man,” much to the irritation of Kazinsky, and Walter’s death knight, that Kazinsky adored for its perfect depiction of the world.  Melissa’s creation was did not go over with the panel except for Kazinsky who actually praised her character for its overall look.

Walter was the clear winner with his Death Knight  and Yvonne missed the mark all the way around and was sent home.

Despite Yvonne being sent home, she managed to get  words of praise from Ve Neill to take with her.

This win was  Walter’s second of the series and as Glenn Hatrick pointed out, his upward swing this close to the finale was a good thing. There are now four artists left and Yvonne left the contest head held high.

Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy.

Face Off: Keep One Eye Open – Douglas Smith Eyes the Cyclops (Review)

Face Off: Keep One Eye Open stepped into the world of Clash of the Titans, Percy the Lightning Thief, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme this week was the mythical Cyclops. Each of the five remaining contestants had to pick an eye.

Face Off - Season 10

Face Off: Keep One Eye Open stepped into the world of Clash of the Titans, Percy the Lightning Thief, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme this week was the mythical Cyclops. Each of the five remaining contestants had to pick an eye. Mel, disturbingly, admitted to having a passion for eyeballs and said that she made them all the time at home.

This was a focus challenge, where the hopefuls had two days to finish their creations and McKenzie explains that the models this week were all extremely tall and formidable looking without the make up.  Interestingly, this challenge also featured more “team work” between the contestants.

While none of this group of hopefuls have quite the “pop” of contestants past, their attitudes have been stellar. The give and take between each artist; where they give one another tips and/or help with sculpting/molding problems, as in this episode, is beyond impressive.

Rob and Yvonne both had issues in the sculpting phase and each helped the other where they could. After an entire day of frustration, Rob starts over.  Yvonne has problems with the brow and gets help from Rob.

Face Off - Season 10
Rob Seal a close second.

Mckenzie came  in with her father Michael Westmore and as usual, the maestro of makeup brought  much to the hopefuls in the way of guidance and advice.  After he leaves the group continued  fine-tuning their sculpts.

After Rob helped Yvonne on her brow problem, she returned the favor by helping him with his sculpt symmetry problem. After last week’s rush for Walter to get his mold done, this focus challenge sees him way ahead of the game. He is first into the mold room.

In Keep One Eye Open it is Rob who is last into the mold room Melissa finishes first and takes the extra time to work on painting those elaborate scales on her Cyclops. Mel practices on herself with a bald cap to do a Dick Smith mohawk.

Face Off - Season 10
Walter Welsh bottom two this week.

Walter notices Mel with her mohawk and complements her. Mel reveals she used to sport that hairstyle.  Walter replies, “Oh you were that weird ‘scenester’ kid.”  “No,” answers Mel, “I was that weird scenester adult. That was like two years ago.” Walter is not overly impressed apparently as he then replies “Get a grip, Mel.”

Rob has problems with cleaning out his mold and Melissa  helps him out after learning that the power washer is broken.

The models come in and they are, as advertised, huge. Mel has to stand on a step-stool to reach the top of her seated model.

Walter has major problems with his bald cap and Melissa gets stuck-in painting her prosthetic. Rob goes all out on matching his creation’s color to its eye. While Mel is unhappy with her eye saying it looks all “googly”  and crazy.”

Face Off - Season 10
Mel Licata saved by the immunity vote

In last looks Melissa polishes off her paint job and Mel makes an error on hers by adding sheen. Walter’s bald cap issues continue and Rob’s quills are proving to be a difficult addition.

As the hopefuls come out to show the creations to the judges they learn that Douglas Smith (Terminator: Genisys, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) is a guest judge. The actor played a cyclops in the Percy Jackson film.  Regular judges Ve Neill, Glenn Hetrick and Neville Page as well as Douglas all go in for a close look at the cyclops characters on stage.

Top two looks this week on Face Off were Mellisa and Rob. Ultimately it was Melissa’s expert and incredibly detailed paintwork on her creation that gave her the win. The close second was Rob for a similar reason, his paintwork/makeup,  although his was not as complex.

Face Off - Season 10
Yvonne Cox safe although her model could talk.

Yvonne was safe but Walter and Mel were the bottom two this week. The judges were not overly impressed with either of the artist’s efforts.

Douglas Smith was taken by the fact that Yvonne’s creation allowed the actor underneath to move his face and talk.   He was also quite pleased that Melissa named her creation.  After Mel was critiqued negatively by Glenn and Neville, Smith told the artist that he liked her cyclops.

Mel’s “googly” eye and “boring” make up made her the contestant chosen to go home. However, after telling Mel that she was out, Glenn then told her that they all agreed to use the one time immunity to give  her a second chance.

As Hetrick and the other judges pointed out, Mel is capable of much better work and this challenge just got away from her. The end result is that there are still five  contestants on the program.  Walter says, after they both go back stage,  that next week will be round two of the top five.

Face Off - Season 10
Melissa Ebbe for the win.

Face Off airs Wednesdays on SyFy.

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