Skull: The Mask follows a detective and a man with a supernatural past as they try to stop a monstrous entity from murdering everyone in its path.
Skull: The Mask Review
I'm not sure what to think of this movie. On one hand, it was hard to sit through for a lot of reasons. On the other, it boasts some clever and fun practical effects throughout. But unlike movies of a similar ilk, that feel self-aware and intentional with their camp, this movie felt like it was trying to achieve more than that through the ridiculous amounts of exposition and character fluff that feel disjointed, unnecessary, and frankly boring.
The world building of this film felt like it was trying to achieve an over-the-top campy slasher while also establishing characters and a plot you care about. And perhaps it was a loss in translation for myself, but I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters or the depth of the story. Normally I'm an exposition fanatic, but in the case of a mythological, monstrous entity inhabiting a person in order to go on a murder spree, it felt like there wasn't much else worth adding. In one scene we're dealt uber gory violence through old school practical effects, then the next sobering scene we yawn through the police force scratching their heads at the crime scenes, all the while trying to build a backstory for several key characters that feel more like filler in order to expand the runtime between brutal slayings.
I do commend any commitment to practical effects, and this movie has plenty of devotion to the art. The grindhouse aesthetic works well with the content. The grotesque mask having a life of its own was an interesting approach to the possession element, like a morbid, disturbing take on The Mask...if you don't overthink it.
The superficial horror fan in me can sit back and enjoy this piece, but if I apply any level of critical thought to it, I have a hard time appreciating it. There was something about how it moved along that bored me more than entertained me. It's possible it caught me at a bad time. Maybe I was too tired. Maybe I forced myself to watch something I wasn't in the mood for and it found itself unfairly behind the eight ball. Or maybe it's just not that good and it doesn't catch the magic of that campy horror film like, say, Willy's Wonderland (which I will review soon enough). It might be worth a watch for those that are fans of practical effects and campy 80s slashers, but you might have to wade through some plot muck to get there.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 3/10