Beth Grant

Deprogramming is hard work in 'Faults'

Deprogramming is hard work in 'Faults'

When a down-on-his-luck expert in cult deprogramming tackles a tough case in "Faults," the results are unsettling — for him, if not the audience. The wan drama is enlivened by bursts of black comedy, some bits more effective than others, and though it ultimately disappoints, there's promise in the understated creepiness of Riley Stearns' debut feature. The writer-director's eye for character detail helps to buoy the sagging action, with crucial assists from lead actors Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Leland Orser.

Orser (a veteran of the "Taken" movies) is especially strong as the very weak Ansel Roth, whose days as a bestselling author and TV host are long...