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