The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - SKULL: THE MASK | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - SKULL: THE MASK

skull the mask review
A resurrected pre-Colombian God goes on a killing spree in Sao Paulo.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Armando Fonseca, Kapel Furman

Starring: Natallia Rodrigues, Wilton Andrade, Ricardo Gelli, Guta Ruiz, Ivo Müller, Tristan Aronovich

skull the mask poster

One of the lessons we've learned from horror movies is that if you live in a colonial nation you don’t want to go messing around with indigenous cultures. Countless American horror movies have dealt with White people coming a cropper for failing to respect the people they displaced, from the Amityville home being built on an Indian burial ground to the distraught Dad of Pet Sematary turning to Native rites in an attempt to bring his dead kid back from beyond the grave.

skull the mask review

Down in Brazil it's no different. In writer/directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman's Skull: The Mask, an ancient pre-Colombian mask falls into the wrong hands, leading to a killing spree as various parties attempt to harness or suppress its power.

The movie opens with a prologue in 1944, when the mask is obtained by fascists, leading to a Raiders of the Lost Ark inspired sequence as the artifact attacks its new owners. Cut to present day Sao Paulo, where the mask is once again found, this time during an archaeological dig. Immediately two forces attempt to gain control of the mask - Manco (Wilton Adrade) wants to ensure it doesn't cause any harm, while sinister businessman Tack Walder (Ivo Muller) wants to use its powers for nefarious means.

skull the mask review

Caught between both sides is police officer Beatriz (Natallia Rodrigues), who comes across the mask while investigating the disappearance of three young immigrant children. Meanwhile, said mask has attached itself to the hulking physique of a crime scene cleaner, and sets off on a bloody rampage through the streets of Sao Paulo.

If the opening Grindhouse style prologue suggests we're in for a knowing pastiche of horror movies, the movie that follows proves surprisingly deadpan. Despite the ridiculousness of its concept, Skull: The Mask insists on playing it with a poker face. More so than a slasher movie, the film plays like a dull police procedural, spending most of its time in the company of Beatriz, a clichéd cop with a pained history. When the details of what exactly is haunting her from the past are revealed, it's difficult to continue to take her side, so awful were her actions.

skull the mask review

On a purely visual level, Skull: The Mask has a pretty great villain. The mask itself looks like the skull of one of those bull-men who guard Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi, and when the overalls of its host body become drenched in blood it makes for a striking image. Sadly nothing much is done with this potential new horror icon. The gore sequences rely too much on CG FX, which lack the gooeyness that makes this sort of thing fun. More often than not, we only witness the aftermath of Skull's killings. The bulk of the movie consists of awkwardly blocked conversations in which stiff actors stand directly in front of one another and dish out plot details. Brazil's Native Tupi tribe might want to exact revenge on all involved here for involving their folklore in such a boring movie.

Skull: The Mask is on Shudder from May 27th.

2021 movie reviews