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Deeper into THE VISAGE...

(Major spoilers ahead, for those who care)

On a single viewing, THE VISAGE might appear to be a fairly straightforward ghost story, but on subsequent viewings, more substantive elements can be seen. Although director Henderson does not wish to "explain" his film and also invites people to interpret it for themselves, here are some questions to ask yourself, and some relationships clarified to help make the experience of seeing the film a richer one.

The word "visage" means face. Consider the visage of both Clifford and Andre. How are they different and are they both being honest with each other? And consider the visage of Loren Balkov, the dead man. Why does he stare at Clifford?

Masks too are visages, and they dominate most scenes inside the Balkov residence. Why would Loren Balkov, the dead man, have been so interested in masks during his lifetime?

Clifford asks for God's help at the beginning of the story. Does he receive help?

Do you think Loren Balkov believed in God when he was alive? Is Andre a believer?

Clifford tells Andre he believes in God. Do you believe him?

What was it about Clifford that made Andre want him for the job of watching over the body of his father?

How well do you think Andre Mader knows Clifford's landlord, Arlen Quinn? Mr. Quinn was trying to evict Clifford. What would the likely reason be? Do you think this had any bearing on his speaking with Andre and suggesting that Clifford needed work?

Is the fact that Clifford is being evicted the only reason he is so depressed at the beginning of the story? Are there any suggestions that something else might be influencing his state of mind?

When Clifford changes CDs: Why Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony?

Why does Clifford continue to stay night after night, beyond all reason, considering the events that are taking place?

Why would the spirits of Alexandra and Christopher Balkov (Loren Balkov's dead sister and brother), be interested in Clifford? What does Clifford have in common with Loren Balkov?

What drove Alexandra and Christopher Balkov to take poison?

Why did Loren Balkov, their younger brother, survive?

Why was Andre's son so interested in dark, depressing things? And why would he also commit suicide?

When Clifford tells Andre he's sorry about his son's suicide, why does Andre not turn around to face Cliff with his response?

Why would Andre insist the face of Loren Balkov not be covered at night?

Consider that Clifford is like a blank slate upon which Andre (and the spirits) can write. Why do the spirits attempt to influence Clifford through writing?

Who is Gretchen?

The score by John Morgan is structured around two main themes, one for Clifford and one for Andre, but both themes have similarities. Why would they be similar?

Spirit Christopher Balkov uses the jazz piece to communicate to the real world. Why a smooth, cool jazz piece?

Throughout the story, Clifford's inner voice is heard talking to himself. How does that voice change over the course of the film?

Does Clifford like himself?

Do you feel sorry for Clifford at the story's end, or do you think he found what he was looking for?

Why do the spirits suddenly have the ability to see (have have pupils in their eyes) when Clifford pulls the blanket down at the film's end?

What happened to Clifford at the end?

THE VISAGE is really Andre Mader's story. By the story's climax, we know more about Andre than we do about Clifford. What do we know about Andre?

What does Andre say to make us realize he is not letting on all he knows about what Clifford will witness during his stay at the Balkov residence?

Why would the phone ring at midnight, precisely at the moment the spirits are taking Clifford? And why does it ring only a few times?

Why does Andre ask his father for forgiveness at the end?

For the sake of your own family, have you ever taken advantage of someone outside your family?

Is there anything in your family history, handed down over the generations, that you'd like to be set free of?

Director Kirk Henderson is fond of stripes and lines. In THE VISAGE they represent vectors all headed in the same direction that never intersect. This visual is suggested throughout the film, from the bleeding "Visage" logo in the title sequence, to the stripes on Clifford's shirt, the stripes on the window coverings in the living room, the bands of light from the blinds in the study and in the hallway seen from the parlor where the body is, and the vertically scarred faces of the spirits.  Why then, would it matter that Clifford has written the words "slice my face up with a butcher knife" diagonally across the parallel lines of his writing pad?

The story begins with the bloody opening title graphic which is quickly yanked down off screen to reveal the church steeple. At the end of the third night, Clifford pulls the blanket down to reveal the spirits there waiting for him. At the very end, Andre pulls the blanket up over the visage of his dead, now peaceful father. How does this "book ending" of the story make you feel? Do you believe that the haunting of the Balkov family has indeed come to an end?