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Skull: The Mask Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Raven Banner Entertainment

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Written and directed by Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman
2020, 90 minutes, Rated 18
FrightFest UK premiere on 30th August 2020

Starring:
Natallia Rodrigues as Beatriz Obidas
Greta Antoine as Lilah
Rurik Jr. as Skull
Tristan Arnovich as Nobuto

Review:

Horror cinema gets its Brazilian Jason Voorhees (Jason Portuguese?) in Skull: The Mask – a slasher film based on pre-Columbian mythology and featuring a cursed mask which demands blood sacrifices from its host body. Alright, so it’s more Jason Goes to Hell than Friday the 13th proper, but the stomping, hulking great Skull (wrestler Rurik Jr.) could give our Camp Crystal Lake mommy’s boy a run for his money any day of the week (or year).

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And that’s where the similarities end anyway. Its slasher elements are filtered through a Brazilian cultural lens and, in other cases, discarded entirely, to make way for a very different kind of horror film. Part police procedural, part gory slasher movie, it’s a mostly refreshing change of pace from the usual low-budget schlock and '80s-inspired throwback features we’ve become accustomed to lately. That can make Skull difficult to get on board with at times, as it lacks some of the rhythm and pace associated with more ‘traditional’ genre movies featuring big men and their sharp knives.

Searching for three missing children, tough, brooding detective Obdias (Natallia Rodrigues) finds herself tangled up in the resurrection of the Skull – an ancient demon and result of an occultist experiment gone wrong. Together with a sword-wielding priest and a man wearing his father’s shrivelled, dismembered arm as a necklace, Obdias must come face-to-face with the Skull in order to bring about justice and achieve personal redemption. If they can all stop fighting each other first, that is.

skull the mask 03 skull the mask 04

The sometimes hard-to-follow plot takes a while to heat up, but once it reaches boiling point, the action is as good as any slasher sequel one could hope to find. Skull – or the Mask of Anhangá if you want to get formal – is the best-looking horror villain in decades; part Victor Crowley, part Darth Maul, all beast. The story may be slow and convoluted at times, but it’s worth bearing with for the shocking gore and intense violence that the Mask unleashes once it’s finally let loose. It’s Hatchet by way of Jim Carrey’s The Mask.

The effectiveness of its monster makes Skull a somewhat frustrating experience; tripping over its own feet in the tug-of-war between gory grindhouse and serious drama. Its dedication to story is appreciated, but at the same time, what we’re really here for are the thrills and spills – of which there almost aren’t enough.

skull the mask 06 skull the mask 05

Skull: The Mask is a film of two halves, both battling for dominance. Thankfully, the languid pace and needlessly complicated story are small fry problems compared to the film’s successes – this is a tremendously gory, lurid and inventive modern slasher movie with a monster for the ages.

Grades:

Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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