Friday, 17 May 2013

Masks (2011)

(Screener Copy)

Directed by Andreas Marschall

Written by by Andreas Marschall

Stars: Susen Ermich, Julita Witt, Sonali Weiderhofer, Michael Siller and Norbert Losch.

Many thanks to Ivo Scheloske of Anolis Entertainment for sending me a screener copy of Andreas (Tears of Kali) Marschall’s new horror/thriller Masks.  The German produced Masks, has been tipped as a murder mystery very much playing homage to the Giallo greats of the 1970s/80s and I am pleased to say that the film very much succeeds in this respect.  

The plot follows young Stella, a below par actress who wants to make it big but has become extremely frustrated at her growing number of failed auditions for drama schools.  Following a tip off Stella auditions for the ominous looking ‘Matteusz Gdula’ school in the hope that she will finally get into a good school. The audition itself goes pretty horribly but to Stella’s surprise (this can never be a good thing) she is invited to study at the school.  Unfortunately the school is home to a deep dark secret, a secret which someone, black gloved hands and all, is willing to kill violently to protect. The increasing bodycount very much appears to be related to the suicide of the schools founder Matteusz Gdula, a man who employed a very questionable method of ‘bringing out the best’ in his students.  

The events of the past are creeping back into the present as Stella comes across a young, terrified looking fellow student Cecile who lets on that she has been removed from normal classes to study ‘The method’. Shortly after this Cecile disappears and following a fight with another classmate, Stella finds herself faced with two options; expulsion, or the chance to take Cecile’s place as student of the notorious method of Gdula. This takes Stella to a very dark place indeed, away from the other students as she is pumped full of some type of drug, put through horrifying rituals and is watched by a mystery assailant from afar.  As several people start to get too close to the truth, the nasty murders start to escalate and it all builds to a shocking and bloody climax as the killer is unmasked and the truth about the school and its murky past are full reveale

Masks has a lot of great things going for it. The atmosphere and colouring is so reminiscentof the great giallo’s of the past that I felt like I was watching a lost Argento film or something along those lines. Andreas Marschall and his team have clearly used an impressive attention to detail in their presentation of the film and I for one was really taken aback by the authenticity of it all. The direction is also top notch and almost experimental in places which I very much appreciated, being a big fan offbeat and gruesome murder mysterys.

The kills are as bloody and gruesome as you might expect with some incredibly nasty sword impalings and stabbings; the double killing about 30 minutes in being a true highlight and is easily going to appease gore hounds.

The acting in the film is also great. Susen Ermich makes for a captivating heroine as the horribly misguided Stella. Susen plays Stella with an interesting mixture of fragile and fearless and it is this that makes watching the character get deeper involved in the unfolding horrors that much more riveting. Sonali Weidenhofer delivers a brilliant performance as mean girl Valeri (hey every school has to have one) and you know that for every nasty comment and spiteful look, she is edging closer and closer to a gory fate. Julita Witt likewise breaths an eerie and tragic life into the character of Cecile, a young girl so drawn into the dark underbelly of the school that it may already be too late for her. The teachers at the school are all suitably mysterious and often creepy and truly bring to mind the great Suspiria.

Check out the films official Facebook HERE to find out more about how YOU might be able to see this great piece of indie cinema soon. The film has been released to DVD in Germany (no English subtitles I am afraid) but I know talks are ongoing for wider distribution so STAY TUNED. 

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