Sunday, 17 April 2011

Review : Mask Maker (2011)

A young couple purchase a house at what seems a real bargain, but as they begin the long process of fixing up the property, the houses dark and violent history reawakens, and this history like to brandish an axe, create masks and generally fuck up everyones day.

MASK MAKER was something of crapshoot for me. I knew nothing about it going in, hadn't read a synopsis, nor was I familiar with the director, writer or any of the actors. I'd saw the cover art and it looked pretty sweet. As they say never judge a book by its cover, or a DVD for that matter. At the time of writing, there was no IMDB page for the film, (which is really strange as almost every cheap and cheerless flick you can think of has a page, even if only created by the film maker themselves). So, I figured I'd brave the film. Hell, its barely 90 minutes and I hadn't got shit all else to do, so in I jumped.

MASK MAKER falls very firmly into the slasher sub genre. Its an old school body count flick with little room for SCREAM style self awareness or smarts. A film about a bunch of kids who end up in a place they shouldn't be, when they should damn well know better. Then said kids take every opportunity to get themselves sliced, diced, beheaded and impaled, by a masked maniac with a seriously shitty attitude. Stop me if you've heard this before.

There is little to be said about MASK MAKER that doesn't involve either comparing it to other, better films of its type, or simply outright labelling it a rip-off. The slasher sub genre is certainly one which feeds on itself. Almost all the flicks since the original BLACK XMAS and HALLOWEEN have followed the same formula; and while its a very tired formula, its still a great deal of fun when done right.  They get a really bad rap at times, and are loved and hated in equal measure, but there have been some genuinely brilliant films made within the slashers strictures. but there have been some genuinely brilliant films made within its strictures. The two films I mentioned are bona fide classics, and who can resist FRIDAY THE 13TH or THE BURNING, SCREAM or NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Fuck, I even love MADMAN. Gimme a slasher flick and few beers and I'm a chilled puppy. All I ask is that the setting is right, the gore level is high and the kids getting slaughtered are somewhat tolerable. Its not much to ask, is it? Yet sometimes a slasher can be SO derivative, SO devoid of anything even resembling originality, that its better just being left to die a quiet death in a corner. MASK MAKER is one such film.

Why the venom, you ask? How about the fact that the killer is deformed, has mommy issues and has an amazing ability to stroll casually behind his sprinting prey and always catch them? How about the fact the the masks he makes are made of the faces of his victims? Ring any bells? Yup, basically this guy,  I've forgotten his name already), is the result of Leatherface fucking Jason Voorhees. Hell, theres even a scene where the female lead dresses AS HIS MOTHER to confuse him and save the life of her dipshit boyfriend. Now that's just as sorry as hell. I mean, why bother watching when you already have TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FRIDAY 13TH in your DVD collection? Whats the fucking point? I should note too that shooting an over the shoulder shot  of your killer standing around doing jack shit doesn't make you John Carpenter. Being JOHN CARPENTER makes you John Carpenter! There is absolutely nothing fresh here.

The pace is off too for a film of this type. The first half drags on but it does pick up considerably in the second half when the shit hits the fan. Its too little too late though, and the kills aren't really that much of a payoff. The effects are fine, and for the most part they're in-shot which lessens the sour taste a little; but they don't have that over the top quality we're used to from our masked madmen. When compared to a flick like LAID TO REST or MANIAC, it just doesn't impress. A number of kills happen off screen too. A huge no-no in my book when dealing with a body count flick.

Its not all bad though. There are a few saving graces here. Its nice to see cameos from Treat Williams and Micheal Berryman. Those two cats are always worth watching. And the lead actress (Nikki Deloach), carries the film really well. Her performance is sweet, natural and very endearing. Also, it doesn't hurt that shes smoking hot. A shame then that the majority of the cast surrounding her are dick shrivellingly annoying. Its the cliche crew we all know and hate. They're all here. The dickhead jock type who somehow always gets laid, the slutty broad who's had more STD's than Sasha Grey, the sensitive boyfriend who for some unspoken reason hangs out with all these assholes. All here. It says a lot that the final girl can still manage to make all this bearable. I really hope she finds more work. She has potential to burn.

It also has a pretty strong soundtrack, although at times it feels a little to 'epic' for such a lowbrow film. It does its job and helps add some much needed gravitas, Maybe that's too strong a word....lets just say it makes it less shitty.

MASK MAKER is unfortunately not going to set the horror world on fire. Its killer is instantly forgettable, being that he's simply a mash up of two already iconic and wonderful characters, and the whole enterprise is derivative in the extreme. It could be mildly entertaining if your new to the genre or willing to turn your brain all the way off and pop a few beers open; but even then, you'll most likely find yourself eyeballing your DVD collection, looking for a superior slasher experience.

Watch for the lead actress or don't watch at all. Life's too short for pointless carbon copy horror like this.

3 Rip-Off Villains out of 10

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