When I first saw the cover art for MASKS, I knew I wanted to watch it. The imagery gave me a distinct Dario Argento vibe, which automatically made it a “must see”. And then I read the synopsis. My mouth immediately started watering, and I could swear I heard the theme song to SUSPIRIA playing in the distance somewhere. Needless to say, I was foaming at the mouth to watch this film
And let me tell you: the movie is worth every bit of anticipation I devoted to it. Director Andreas Marschall does a stunning job of presenting this slasher/mystery, and horror fans will definitely want to get their hands on this one soon; it is a perfect film to watch for Halloween!
If you are not familiar with MASKS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Reel Gore Releasing and CAV Distribution:
In her quest for fame, drama student Stella gets caught in the grip of a mysterious and deadly stage school.
Stella longs to be an actress. When she is accepted to a private school in Berlin, her dream seems to come true. But there is something wrong with the “Matteusz Gdula-Institute”. In the seventies, the school´s founder, Matteusz Gdula, practiced a learning style that promised to let students shine by driving them to their mental limits. In the end his method was banned, as mysterious deaths occurred during his lessons and Gdula committed suicide. At night, Stella hears eerie sounds in the corridors of the school. A fellow student disappears. Stella suspects that behind the closed door to the abandoned, forbidden wing of the school lurks a bloody secret.
A secret that kills the students…
First 3000 copies include: CD – Original Soundtrack, Collectible Blu-ray/DVD Slipcase and Sleeve, 24 Page Booklet.
From the look and feel of MASKS, I would swear Marschall studied under Argento. Marschall has an uncanny knack for capturing the mood and atmosphere Argento uses in some of his most classic films. I am not saying Marschall copied him, but rather learned from him. Marschall makes use of lighting, color, and even music to help elevate the tension in his scenes. The result is a first-rate horror flick that is worthy of praise and attention.
MASKS is shot very well, in a cinematic style that enhances every terrifying second of the movie. I like many of the camera angles the cinematography captures, and they help set eerie tones for several of the scenes.
Likewise, the acting is first-rate as well. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the cast members in prior roles, however I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in future films. Susen Ermich does a great job as the main, Stella. She is supported by a talented group that includes Magdalena Ritter and Julita Witt.
The suspense in MASKS is almost a physical element. I even jumped at a couple of the kills, as they happened without warning. This brings up the gore: it is excellent. The weapon of choice for the killings is a short fencing sword, and we get to see (in graphic detail) the way it pierces flesh on various parts of the body. These scenes are gruesome and excellent.
If I were forced to find a flaw with MASKS, I might have to comment on the length of the film. It clocks in at just shy of two hours (1 hour 52 minutes, I believe), but there are a couple of scenes that could have been cut down a bit. Personally, I think I good running time would have been 1 hour 40+ minutes or so. The additional time doesn’t really detract from the film, but this is just an observation.
There’s no denying MASKS is a powerhouse of a horror film, though, and every horror fan worth his or her salt will want to check this one out. It’s an interesting hybrid of giallo, mystery, and horror, so it’s got something for everyone. Be sure and snatch up the Blu-ray special edition, as it contains a CD with the soundtrack and a couple of other goodies. The film is available now.