I saw this article at IO9.com about why the picture below is disturbing:
Here’s a quote from the article: “To find no recognition of separateness or personhood in the eyes of another is to have one’s identity shaken and sense of control stripped away. It’s part of what makes some of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who monsters so terrifying, and why the image up top might make you feel a little uneasy.”
I completely disagree. The reason the above picture is disturbing isn’t because of what you can’t see; your imagination will fill in those blanks and it may make those blanks horrifying, but that’s not what makes it unsettling. No, sorry IO9, I can tell you why that picture is scary – it’s what you can see, and what that implies.
Take a good look at “Faceless” up there. First of all, they aren’t faceless. The idea that the identity of the individual has been erased is false. I can tell that this person is likely male, probably in their early to mid-twenties, just from the outlines and what we can see of the hair. The person has a well defined neck line and jaw. In fact, the jaw looks too well defined, and the uncanny valley effect begins. The eye sockets are large and also sharply defined. This coupled with the jaw starts to make this individual look inhuman. Add in what looks like an extremely high forehead that combines with a low brow line and you get the makings of a monster.
So I reject IO9’s analysis that somehow this image is disturbing because it represents the removal of identity and instead suggest that the image dips into the uncanny valley and presents what looks to be an alien, inhuman face. It’s not that it strikes any chords of fear of conformity, it’s fear of the unknown and the unreal.