James Di Martino turns cancer into a horror movie in ‘The Faceless Man’

09 May, 2018 by Don Groves

Top row (L-R) Lorin Kauffeld, Daniel Facciolo, Martin Astifo. Bottom row Lucas Pittaway, Sophie Thurling, Sunny S Walia.

Writer-director James Di Martino is making his feature debut on The Faceless Man, a horror movie inspired by a harrowing personal experience.


Sophie Thurling will play the protagonist Emily, who is haunted by a faceless creature in her subconscious three years after surviving cancer.

Her best friend Nina (Lorin Kauffield) organises a weekend away with a bunch of male friends to a holiday house in an outback town, where they are terrorised by the faceless creature and harassed by the locals, cops and Russian monsters.

“My main inspiration was incorporating cancer into a horror story,” Di Martino, who is producing with Rhys Sherring and Lucinda Bruce, tells IF.

“I was diagnosed when I was 18 with Lymphoma and had to have chemotherapy. Being stage 4 (just under terminal) is a very hard place for an 18-year-old to be and going through it is a horror experience in itself.

“Seven years later I am making a horror film on it and going into the gritty detail of showing cancer as a monster. It is a full-on horror film mixing physiological with some brutal elements; it’s not a politically correct film at all.”

The writer-director who cut his teeth on short films also drew inspiration from the phenomenon of sleep paralysis plus ‘Ozploitation’ films, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek and the Saw franchise.

The cast includes Lucas Pittaway (Snowtown), Daniel Facciolo, Sunny S Walia, Martin Astifo, Albert Goikhman and David Beamish.

In a throwback to Mad Max, Roger Ward will play the leader of the town’s bikies gang. Andy McPhee will play the intimidating owner of the holiday house.

Shooting is due to start in Melbourne mid-year, produced by Di Martino’s Chapter 5 Studios and privately-financed. Emma Rose will create the faceless man based on a concept by artist Austin Mengler.

Di Martino says the film will be aimed primarily at US audiences so the producers will first seek a US distributor before looking for an Australian distributor.