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Face Off recap: Special effects series returns with howler of a twist

Ethereal Effects take the win in the first week of Syfy’s Face Off

Season 12 of Syfy’s special effects makeup competition Face Off has kicked off — in terrifying style.

McKenzie Westmore, a member of the multi-generational family dynasty whose name is synonymous with the makeup effects field, returned as host.

She gave us an exclusive interview about what fans can expect in the new season.

But while she remains the same, everything else got a big shake-up…

New rules

For Season 12 a new twist has come into play.

Instead of it being about individual success, the rules have changed so that we now get two teams that will act like proper special effects makeup shops.

The two teams in the series are called Twisted Six Effects and Ethereal Effects.

Creating werewolves

Once the teams had been decided, they were set with the task of creating a pack of werewolves consisting of an Alpha, Beta and Omega.

To help them develop their wolf packs, the teams got to create their concept drawings based off of a couple of real life wolves.

Ethereal Effects chose to create their wolf pack based off of a black wolf while Twisted Six Effects went with a white wolf.

I personally think Twisted Six Effects had the tougher road to travel here given the amount of shading and skill required when it comes to using anything white.

But it also allows visually for more interesting shades of colour and hues to slip through depending on how the light catches their creation.

The choice of black also allows for interesting hues of darker shades of colour intermixed, but is likely a little easier to pull off.

What the judges look for

The three werewolves created by Twisted Six Effects

While the teams worked at creating the clay moulds for their eventual prosthetic mask and chest pieces they got a visit from Special Effects Make-Up artist Michael Westmore — McKenzie’s dad — who gave the teams a few valuable pointers.

He pointed out things such as making the ears longer and the cheekbones higher, which proved to be invaluable advice.

When it came to the judging, all of the above things would come under consideration.

Ethereal Effects’ Alpha werewolf

Ultimately Ethereal Effects won this week because their wolf pack was the most cohesive and consistent.

Joseph  from Ethereal was judged the individual winner of the week for his great work on the face sculpt for the team’s Alpha Werewolf.

Joseph and his winning sculpt of the pack Alpha

Twisted Six Effects lost out and also lost one of their members due to a badly executed chest sculpt, which the judges said didn’t display any understanding of anatomy.

This werewolf lost it for Twisted Six. Its chest sculpt was anatomically incorrect and, according to Michael Westmore, looked like sausages.

To be fair the lady that was let go admitted that it was her first chest sculpt and Al, who was the foreman of Twisted Six, should really have helped her out more than he did.

In fact for me, Al seemed to be in his own little world throughout the episode just doing his own thing.

He never really struck me as a team player and appeared to be a poor choice for foreman.

Final thoughts

I have to admit, this was my first experience of Face Off.

As a rule I’m not really a fan of the reality television genre, but do on occasion make an exception if it is something like Face Off or a show that has something historical and educational to offer such as Pawn Stars or American Pickers.

My one issue with this opening episode was keeping up with all the contestants’ names.

I watched this on a screener so perhaps what I saw was not fully edited, but having the team members’ names pop up whenever they were talking would have been of great use — especially given that you have two teams of six people to remember.

Etherial Effects’ Beta werewolf

Overall, however, I really enjoyed watching the show.

I’ve always been that guy that buys the DVD or the Blu Ray just for the extras.

You know, that geek who listens to the movie commentaries. And wants to know why certain creative choices were made. And even wants to know who did the catering. (I’m joking about that last bit.)

This show is fun because it gives some insight into the world of special effects make-up, but also highlights the talented people that create all the creatures.

Side profile of Etherial Effects’ Beta werewolf

The team that won this week really deserved it. They seemed to be more of a team and helped each other to success, whereas Twisted Six was hindered by a foreman that wasn’t really on the mark in terms of helping the weakest team member — who ultimately got ejected from the competition.

I personally think Al should have been ejected as well. It will be interesting to see if Twisted Six lift their game for next week’s challenge.

Be sure to check out our list of werewolf movies and see if you can see where any of the contestants got their inspiration.

Face Off airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Syfy.

Ian Cullen is a TV journalist and when not writing more

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