Blu-ray Review: Mask Maker / Cert: 18 / Director: G. E. Furst / Screenplay: G. E. Furst / Starring: Nikki Deloach, Stephen Colletti, Terry Kiser, Michael Berryman, Treat Williams / Release Date: Out Now
Post-Cabin in the Woods any movie featuring a bunch of good-time American kids decamping to some rundown, middle-of-nowhere retreat for some weekend fun’n’frolics is going to have one Hell of a hard time being taken seriously. Joss Whedon and co have pretty much made that one a no-go area for a while until their deconstructive heat has died down a bit.
Retitled from the clumsy US Masquerade this retread of a thousand-and-one stalk and slashes, from Friday 13th through Texas Chainsaw Massacre and most points in between, is pretty much by-the-numbers slice-and-dice horror and yet it’s done with enough style and conviction to keep the attention even as it merrily reheats horror clichés we’ve all seen too many times before.
Student Jennifer (Deloach) is none too pleased when her boyfriend Evan (Collette) blows all their savings on a battered and abandoned old plantation house for her birthday present. He manages to convince her that the house could, with work, be a decent investment so they invite a gang of friends to join them for a weekend of partying and light house renovation. Naturally enough a couple of creepy locals (Berryman, Williams) try to warn them off but what kind of movie would we get if the kids just packed up their stuff and went home? Sure enough the house’s history rises up to haunt them. Back in the 1960s a hideously-disfigured young boy watches as his own demented mother is killed and now he’s back from the grave to terrorize those who’ve invaded the family home. Before long he’s on the rampage with an axe, slicing off his victim’s faces and wearing them like death masks and Jennifer’s suspicions about the house aren’t enough to stop the bodies piling up.
Mask Maker is about as derivative as they come - there’s nothing hugely original here - but it’s watchable enough despite the fact we know we’ve seen all this before. The slayings are commendably bloody, the silent, relentless killer, whilst indistinguishable from silent, relentless killers in dozens of these cheap movies, is pretty formidable and whilst the twist ending (which is, literally, a twist) isn’t exactly a surprise it still manages to pack a bit of a punch. Furst directs his own script with bags of energy and commitment and there are several decent effective sequences where the killer chases and corners his victims before mercilessly mutilating them.
Hardly destined to join the ranks of the modern horror slasher classics, Mask Maker’s a competent effort and, as a budget release, it’s worth a look if you fancy a quick fix of grisly beheadings and disembowellings in a pleasant rural setting.
Special Features: None