A vicious murderer, The Laughing Mask, is on the loose killing people. Jake Johnson’s (John Hardy) wife and daughter were murdered by the psychopath and now he has written a book in the hope of luring the killer to him so that he can seek his revenge. Meanwhile, detective Katherine O’Malley (Sheyenne Rivers) is trying to catch The Laughing Mask before he kills again.
It’s difficult to know where to start with this film and as advice to a potential viewer, we would say it’s best not to start it at all. We’re not entirely sure that The Laughing Mask knows what type of film it is as its tone veers widely. There are moments of what seem to be attempted comedy, which sit there bloated like the washed-up corpse of a whale, but there aren’t enough throughout the film’s extremely protracted running time of an hour and forty minutes to justify saying that it is intentionally a comedy. On the other hand, it is never scary so it’s difficult to call it a horror though it is definitely an attempt at a slasher film. So this leaves us nowhere.
It's part crime drama, as we follow the attempts of detective O’Malley to capture The Laughing Mask, but her occupation seems only to be useful in sticking her in the story, as she does very little police work and certainly none of it is any good. The police force in The Laughing Mask are possibly the worst ever committed to film. Our first proper introduction to them is when they meet at the scene of a murder where they proceed to make wildly inappropriate jokes and comments about whether the murder victim has breast implants or not. Their police station is woefully unconvincing; for some reason O’Malley has a world map poster on her office wall like that found in a Ten-Year-Old’s bedroom and the chief has a poster that is a stock image of London phone boxes.
The acting is unswervingly bad, leaving every scene stilted and often unintentionally funny. Characters drift around speaking dialogue that seems like they’ve only just read it and acting like they’ve never felt actual emotions before. The film blunders on towards an ending, stopping for several drawn out scenes along the way that could easily have been trimmed down, with a random and nonsensical twist that falls out of nowhere.
What we can say though is that the actual Laughing Mask killer is fairly well styled, even if he is completely uninteresting, and there are some laughs to be had at the blunders that make up the film. A moment starting with a flat line reading and ending with animated pickles is also genuinely laugh out loud.
The Laughing Man is a film that doesn’t really do anything right. You may laugh but it won’t have been because of anything intentional.
THE LAUGHING MAN / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: MICHAEL AGUIAR/ SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL AGUIAR / STARRING: SHEYENNE RIVERS, JOHN HARDY, GABRIEL LEE / RELEASE DATE: TBA