Faults is written and directed by Riley Stearns and is, almost unbelievably, his first feature. It is an in depth look at cults and the controversial process of de-programming, popularised in the 70s and 80s to combat the perceived rise in cult activities.
The story starts out with Ansel Roth (Leland Orser – Taken, Independance Day), a self proclaimed authority in mind control, who had some success with a previous book, but is having no joy selling the sequel.
We see him fraudulently trying to get an extra free meal and night in the hotel where he is giving a speech, becoming violent when challenged and trying to con people into buying his book. During the seminar he is badly beaten by a man who claims he is responsible for the suicide of his sister, who he was trying to help to leave a cult. This is not the way to improve your reputation.
Nevertheless, two of the audience approach him, parents of a girl who has fallen foul of a cult, to request his help in extracting her. He isn’t remotely interested, he has long since stopped caring about other people. But when meathead Mick (Lance Reddick – Fringe, John Wick) arrives with the news that his manager Terry (Jon Gries – Men In Black) has dropped him and wants his money back within the week, he is forced to reevaluate his position and strike a deal.
As agreed, he kidnaps their daughter Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Final Destination 3, Live Free or Die Hard) and takes her to a remote motel, location unknown, along with her parents, to begin the difficult process of de-programming. However it seems that Mum (Beth Grant – The Artist, Rain Man) and Dad (Chris Ellis – Armageddon, Catch Me if you Can) might be part of the problem.
Ansel soon discovers that Claire is a formidable opponent, she is unshakeable in her faith in the cult, Faults and her logic is flawless. As they begin to get to know each other, a web of confusion and mind games is slowly built up, leading to a gloriously surprising conclusion.
Faults is darkly comedic and incredibly well written. Although there is little or no action, I was riveted from start to finish. Leland Orser is quite magnificent as the down and out, no good, washed up author and Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives a powerhouse performance as the victim of a cult. Backed up by a strong supporting cast and a great script, they make the film flow brilliantly.
This is an amazing debut for Riley Stearns. I would thoroughly recommend this film to anyone who is interested in the topic, as it adds an interesting new spin and is also an excellent watch.
“You shouldn’t ask questions you know the answer to.”
Faults is available On Demand only now and can be purchased from iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Blinkbox, Filmflex/Virgin, Wuaki, Googleplay, Sky and Sony.