When one stumbles across a film with a title like “Plank Face,” you do have to take pause and satisfy at least your cursory curiosity for such an oddity. And then, if you are like me, you go beyond the cursory and do a full viewing of this twisted tale of a feral family in the forest.
Scott Schirmer’s Plank Face (2016) stars Nathan Barrett as Max, a recently released con who goes on a hiking trip with his girlfriend, Stacey. After first being set upon by a random rapist at their campsite, Max is waylaid by another unseen attacker after saving Stacey.
Max wakes to find he has been taken by a trio of women, credited as Granny, The Bride, and Bunny Girl. On his death bed in the same cabin is Old Daddy, who we see get mortally wounded in the opening five minutes of the film. Torture and forced cannibalism follow, and a whole lot of nudity, male and female, starts happening, too. It’s late into this write up to say it, but if you are triggered by sexual assault, definitely steer away from this film as there are multiple rape scenes with both the women and Max being the aggressor. The story plays out with minimal dialogue (apart from the made-up language used by Granny) as Max takes up the mantle of Plank Face from the recently departed Old Daddy and steadily sheds his civilized nature with the family.
As a caveat, I must ask you to not judge this film by the first 15 minutes if you choose to watch it. The overall quality of the performances and the look of it greatly improves after Max wakes in the cabin. I was frequently impressed by the lighting in comparison to other films of this budget range. And once standard English is dropped, the chance for stilted dialogue is eliminated for the benefit of several of the cast members.
I was slightly surprised to find that I kind of liked this film. It’s not great, and Max goes feral a little too easily. But that might be a reflection on his time in prison. Hard to say. This is not a film for everyone by any means, but if you want to wander down a different path, give this a watch. Consider it a ballsy move. (Plank Face is currently streaming on Tubi.)