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It’s a whole new world with this season of Face Off! With the theme of Life And Death, contestants won’t just be eliminated – they’ll be killed! Just kidding. Just because Ve Neill is heading up makeup for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay doesn’t mean we’ve all gone totally bloodthirsty… yet.
But we’re not kidding about the theme – McKenzie tells the sixteen contestants that although they’ve made it this far, they’re still not officially on the show. Today’s challenge is a sudden death contest, and they’re all fighting for the fourteen spots in the competition. On one side of a cavernous, white hall are eight models who represent life; on the opposite side are eight who represent death. The artists get to choose which theme they want for their first challenge (if they can run fast enough!), but once they pick a model they have to build their makeup around whatever accessory is in the mysterious box at that station.
A couple hours into their creations, just as they’re beginning to manage their nerves, McKenzie pulls a classic Face Off move and gives them a twist. In the collaborative environment of film, she tells them, concepts often shift depending on the whim of a director or producer. With that in mind, they all now have a new element to integrate into their makeups – often the exact opposite of what they originally had in mind! (Rachael, with the sea goddess concept that got the fur robe, we’re looking at you.) But to soothe some of the stress, she invites Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger, to give the eager artists some tips on making a really good makeup.
After what feels like a week, but was only four hours, time is up and the judges come in. Glenn and Neville zap the exhausted room with a blast of electricity – it’s really them! Ve couldn’t make it today – Katniss needed her – but she’ll be there tomorrow for the elimination. The contestants head back to the hotel (yep, some of them will never see the house!) to try to sleep before the next day’s big events.
At the reveal stage, the hopefuls are super excited to see Glenn and Neville again, and there’s Ve, too! Hooray! But since Katniss is soooo high maintenance, Ve will be tending to her flawless skin and dewy lips instead of judging everyone’s favorite show. Rounding out the judges’ panel in Ve’s occasional absence will be Lois Burwell, artist on such standouts as Lincoln, The Fifth Element, War of the Worlds, and Braveheart (that one earned her an Oscar). Not too shabby!
Mackenzie divides the contestants into two groups: those who have earned their place in the competition, and those who were the best and worst of this first challenge. That second group lines up on the chopping block to hear their fate. In top looks were Dina, a cake decorator who used her frosting skill to pipe awesome blue veins onto a stunning green nymph with red accents; Keaghlan, who brought Hindu influences into a fertility goddess design; Vince, who made excellent use of his thin bone props as tusks, and Sasha, who created a very pretty mistress of death. (We have to pause here and say wow – THREE of the top looks were women. A Face Off first!) Not only did Dina create a gorgeous standalone character, she also brought elements of the set from the first day into her makeup – super smart move that earns her the win.
In the bottom were Scott, who just recently took a special effects makeup class with his son, Gwen, who’s dreamed of being a special effects artist since she was six; Gabby, a self-taught artist from Ohio, and Jason, a chef who also owns a small silicone prop company. Scott made some really big missteps, such as failing to integrate the given elements into his concept, and the judges eliminate him before even getting through the full roster of evaluations. Between the remainder of the low looks, they feel Gabby’s work was the weakest. She went with a graphic half-blue, half-black face that could’ve been cool, but just fell short. They complement Gabby on how clearly she sees where she went off track, and Gabby feels a sense of pride that she was good enough to get this far. She’ll use this experience as fuel and move forward towards her dream.