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Horror Releases: Skull: The Mask (2020) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 835 days ago on Entertainment -  According to pre-Columbian folklore, Anhangá was an ancient forest spirit who protected wildlife and the forest, often taking the form of a white deer with red eyes.  In modern times, Anhangá has grown to become considered a demonic entity rather than a benevolent protector.  The Brazilian film Skull: The Mask draws inspiration from this folklore — and they lean heavily toward the demonic portrayal of Anhangá to say the least.Opening with a German military experiment in 1944 gone awry, the film shows an unfortunate group of Germans attempting to wield the power of the “Mask of Anhangá” and failing horribly.  Fast-forwarding to the present day, we learn more about this mysterious mask when it is unearthed during an archaeological dig.  A young girl foolishly awakens the dormant vengeful spirit, which quickly finds a host for its supernatural powers and goes on a killing spree.  Several individuals attempt to stop this ancient spirit from completing an occult ritual heavy in human sacrifice:  Detective Beatriz Obdias (Natallia Rodrigues), who tries to find the missing mask and ends up questioning herself in the process, and Manco Ramirez (Wilton Andrade), who has deemed it his life’s duty to stop this spirit from inciting the apocalypse, collecting artifacts related to this entity in order to lure it closer to him.Skull: The Mask is an eclectic mix between a detective and slasher film, but succeeds when it delves towards the latter.  The more it feels like a detective film, the pacing begins to lag, thick with laborious exposition and uninteresting asides.  Any time the narrative shifts focus to the monstrous killer and the direct attempts to stop him, interest piques and pacing improves.  While most of the time the different genres blend together into one cohesive piece, there are certain moments that feel like the genres are clashing with each other, and it would have been better off as a straight slasher film.  For a 90-minute running time, the pacing and unevenness make the film feel far longer than it is. What this film succeeds in, however, is a masterful display of gory practical effects.  The masked killer is an intimidating-looking, blood-drenched behemoth with tentacle-like tendrils slithering around his body in the close-ups.  From a beating heart being torn out of a ribcage to someone’s face being slashed off, his brutal murders are legendary and hearken back to the horror films of the '80s when CG wasn’t relied upon as much.  It’s easy to make the comparison of this villain to horror heavyweights like Jason Vorhees, but he has his own flair and lore about him to set him apart from kindred spirits like that.The cinematography and sound design elevate Skull: The Mask enough for it to never fully land into schlocky B movie territory, although it dips its toes in those waters on more than one occasion.  Mostly serious in tone despite some over-the-top moments (a brutal rampage in a nightclub comes to mind), this film has a unique and engaging atmosphere that is brought to life by its crew.  Kudos to everyone behind the scenes for being so ballsy in the film’s vision and never allowing the splatter effects to look cheesy despite a meager budget.Without a doubt, fans of supernatural splatter will enjoy Skull: The Mask for its impressive effects and occult undertones, but its pacing as a detective story ultimately takes it down a few notches.  It’s worth a watch, but there’s a lingering sense that it could have been so much more.--Andrea Riley (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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