Face Off

It’s here! Season 11 of Face Off has officially started! This time, the All Stars are competing against each other in teams to complete their mission to be the top prosthetic makeup artists! Rogues Portal editors (Amelia, Billy and Insha) have some thoughts, feels, and opinions on the premiere episode.

If you’re not familiar with Face Off, let us sparknote it for you before we start. Face Off is a reality show on Syfy, hosted by McKenzie Westmore (Passions) that give makeup artists the opportunity to use their skills to create some imaginative work in the themes of science fiction and horror. It’s a game competition, so they’re racing against time and the clock to get everything done. Each week, these artists are given a theme and at the end, the “Spotlight Challenge” where they present their finished product to the judges.

Now that we’ve gotten that out the way, let’s get started with S11E1 of Face Off, “Abstract Aliens”, where eight teams of returning All-Stars create unique alien creatures while incorporating green screen technology for the first time in Face Off history.

Spoilers below.

Amelia: I have watched every season of Face Off leading up to this All-Stars season, and I have to say, based on a list of names alone, I had no idea who the hell these people were.

The teams of the returning Face Off people are:

Cig Neutron (S7) + George Troester (S7) = Team Troestron

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Cat Paschen (S6) + Niko Gonzalez (S6)  = Team Love

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Adam Milicevic (S8) + Logan Long (S8)  = Nameless 1

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Rachael Wagner (S7) + Gage Hubbard (S1) = Team Rage

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Tyler Green (S6) + Emily Serpico (S8) = Team Wonderful

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Ben Ploughman (S9) + Evan Hedges (S9) = Nameless 2

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Stella Sensel (S7) + Jasmine Ringo (S9) = Nameless 3

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Melissa Ebbe (S10) + Keaghlan Ashley (S7) = Team Merwolf

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Amelia: Um… yeah, okay. “All-Stars” indeed.

Billy: An All-Star season does very little for me normally, because normally, I have NO IDEA who these people are. I have a poor memory. I know this. I feel like I remember Emily, and maybe Cat? Anyways, from initial introductions, my favourite team is Keaghlan and Melissa as Team Merwolf because of their matching blue hair, and even though Cig and George seem like they’ll get tiresome as people… I’m trash, guys. Team Troestron? They’re going to make weird funny shit. I live for weird funny shit.

Insha: Weirdly enough, I ONLY know who Gage Hubbard and Keaghlan Ashley are. Mostly because I had a gigantic crush on Keaghlan for most of her season. All-Stars are always a little gimmicky to me. When you bring people together from past seasons to compete, it mostly means that your show needs a kick in the butt to restart it. I love how Gage completely outs himself as the dinosaur of the group. He’s the only one from a season before 6.

Amelia: Am I the only one that’s getting a little sick of McKenzie Westmore’s antics? Flying in on a coast guard helicopter? Why? Because the challenge was vaguely ocean related? They’re really stretching for spotlight challenge reveal excitement eleven seasons in. At this point, I just want to see them painting and fabricating and then the big, final reveal.

Face Off

But I know that’s not how reality television works. There needs to be padding to fill out the hour. And I’ll deal with that padding – happily – as long as there’s no contestant drama. I hate seeing them get bitchy and upset. The fact that these people are all working to win but will still take time away from their creations to help others pry open molds or model for reference is amazing. Definitely a far-cry from where reality television started with Survivor aka Formulaic High School Cliches on an Island.

Billy: I love how the drama in Face Off is produced from the actual struggle of making these rather than playing characters off one another. And there were good moments for that in this first episode. When the chest sculpt actually fell over and you just saw it squashed on the ground? I felt so bad, but you could tell it was something they’d dealt with before. These are old hands.

I don’t really mind McKenzie Westmore’s antics because she at least always seems to genuinely enjoy being there. Over the past few seasons, it’s seemed like she’s come closer and closer to actually discussing the designs with the judges rather than just prodding them into making words for tape, and she has an actual connection to the makeup industry through her father. If they asked me to enter on a military helicopter? Uhh… yes. I would say yes to that. Every episode. Every time.

Insha: I would have loved if they all had to meet in a submarine at the bottom of the ocean in order to figure out what their mysterious creature were. That’s my only critique about McKenzie Westmore’s antics. If you’re gonna go big, do it down under man.

I kinda already love this alot cause the teams seem like they’re picked just right. I hope no drama happens between them (I mean, this is a reality show so of course), but I love how they all work together already.  They’re like fighting to produce the best stuff. Omg, the best example of team effort was Team Love with their mold! *epic cringe*

I always love how they take the time out to explain the Spotlight Challenge in full detail so you don’t get it twisted, like “if you f*ck this up… it’s on you.” I also love how they compare it to films. That gets me SUPER pumped!

Amelia: Out of the three of us, I’m the odd man out in terms of science-fiction. It’s not really my genre. I love when they do fantasy and horror, and I even love when they go high-concept. But high-concept sci-fi? Aliens? *shrugs* What else ya got?

Billy: I loved the concept of this challenge. Seeing “unproduced” green screen is very odd. You can see the seams in places you normally wouldn’t and it makes you appreciate the craft. It’s something you can only really do after you’ve established what a “normal” creature makeup is. Eleven seasons in? Let’s go weird. Let’s go high concept.

Insha: I love/hate this challenge. It was… different. As different as it can be, but also super difficult in its execution. I wish they had more time with this one. This seems like a challenge that could decide your fate in the middle of the season? I loved this challenge because of the creatures they had to work with! They looked SO COOL! That Deep Sea Dragonfish tho!

Billy: Overall I noticed a lot more fabrication than normal going on in this episode of Face Off.  The gigantic legs and arms I suppose come intrinsically with “alien” design, but there was definitely more of a focus on that than sculpting and painting, which is unfortunate, because sculpting and painting was where some of them really fell flat in the end.

Insha: I do very much agree with Billy. I liked some of their sculpting, but the painting was, for me, where most of them seriously lacked. They relied too heavily on the green screen for some of what they were lacking.

Amelia: Stoked to see ladies win it! The seasons I’m most involved in are the ones where women are being awesome. I think it was season four or five that had all the women voted out before the finale and there were just seven straight weeks of episodes with only dudes. Yeah. I don’t want that. The white men they bring on to these shows have had quite enough means in life to do well. Let’s maybe get women and POC contestants and actually have them last, you know?

Insha: THANK YOU. That last sentence just needs to be screamed from a mountaintop.


Insha: I think they kinda cemented themselves with the best of the best ladies in this honestly. I remember Keaghlan’s stuff SUPER well because her high concepts were absolutely breathtaking. I just wish there were a more even array of POC’s in the show as contestants. Lots as models, but when you slather them from head to foot in make-up, that just doesn’t count!

Billy: Okay, so in the end, how do I feel? My favourite FACE of all the make-ups has to come from the aristocratic little guy. He feels like he should be, like, a Vogon servant in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s that whimsical, comedy quality. Team Troestron needs to be hired on Doctor Who like today.

Face Off

Billy: I also loved the Octopus, because I think that sculpt did a fantastic job of incorporating green screen into a SOLID form and it was designed with an actual fluid motion. Everyone else looked like they were waggling their arms in front of an ocean backdrop. That Octopus was swimming.

Insha: I actually wanted Team Wonderful to win so badly? I think they pulled it off and was the most thoughtful in the use of the green screen. I honestly didn’t get that Team Merwolf won. If this was a ‘who made the best head’ challenge, they TOTALLY nailed it, but… I just really didn’t get how they won? I wanted so much more out of their conceptual designs and I think Team Wonderful nailed it all the way around. Team Merwolf did a great high concept piece, which was cool, but at the same time, it’s like… they didn’t do much.

Billy: I was surprised at the actual winner. I thought they would go with the more accomplished piece of green screenery, and even though Glenn kept going on about Team Merwolf’s paint job… I didn’t quite see it? Am I alone in this? I might just enjoy warmer colours and pretty things but her head seemed… bland.

Amelia: I loved Melissa in season 10, so I’m glad she won. I also think they did what the challenge wanted, which was to use a sea creature as inspiration, not a straight model. I mean, that skeleton shrimp worked well with the green screen, but it was also just a skeleton shrimp.

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Billy: I’m just an absolute sucker for Emily on Team Wonderful ‘cause I love her hair! It’s not dyed like some of the other female contestants, but it’s wild hair. An artist’s hair that refuses to be tamed or get out of the way. I may be a bit biased.

Amelia: As a side note, I have to bring this up. It didn’t happen in this first episode because this season is working slightly differently than past season. But over the ten seasons I’ve watched, I’ve noticed a trend that the good artists that make one mistake will be voted out on the week they make that mistake in, while there are mediocre to just plain bad contestants that are constantly in the bottom looks, but are overlooked because of this one time mistake by a decent artist. I mean, in one season there was a guy in bottom looks three weeks in a row. Why was he allowed to remain? I feel like his mediocrity was invisible in the face of his whiteness.

It’s gonna happen again this season. Out of sixteen contestants, only two are people of colour: Niko and Cat. And, get this, they’re on the same team. Meaning if they’re voted out, it’s just white people left. I’m white and I’m sick of this white nonsense.

Insha: Face Off

The Verdict

Insha: I drop in and out of Face Off every time a season is up. If you don’t catch me in the first episode, then you’ve lost my viewership for the rest. This episode actually kinda caught my attention to watch more of it. The All Stars are all very different (personalities I mean, there’s still a need for more diversity), but their skills are something I wouldn’t mind watching. I love watching cringe moments like when their mold fell because I’m my own personal garbage fire. However, I like how they’re working together to create the dopest creatures. This one’s going to be a Watch It! I can’t wait till the next episode, I just want to see all the sh*t they can create!

Amelia: I used to be really into Face Off and would watch it without doing anything else because I was so invested in the process. Now that there’s been eleven seasons since only 2011, it’s more like background noise. I feel like I’ve seen everything there is to see, and I’m definitely frustrated with the ratio of white to literally every other race, but I’m too curious to just flat out stop watching. So I mean, this gets a Watch It from me but just because I just don’t value my time enough to do anything else when Face Off is on. I too am my own personal garbage fire.

Billy: I actually think Face Off has matured a lot since I first started watching it. It seems like they at least don’t feel the need to tell me how to make a mold from a face sculpt over and over every week. Considering this is an All-Stars season, I didn’t think we would have any more of those moments of artist just not living up to the quality of the other contestants but… I mean… we all saw that crab that looked like it was painted by toddlers, right? It’s going to be a season of high highs to be sure, but possibly also some low lows if everybody keeps swinging for the fences every week just because it’s an All-Stars season. Should be fun. Plus, I get to watch it with Insha and Amelia! They might be garbage fires, but I like ‘em. That gets a Watch It from me automatically.

…they’re not garbage fires. Don’t tell them I said that.

Insha Fitzpatrick
co-editor in chief of dis/member & rogues portal. hufflepuff. frmly of geek.com. talks on film runners. craves horror films. loves true crime. tries her best.

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