My last review (The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein) showed what Nico B. and the folks behind the scenes of ReelGore Releasing are bringing to the table, so to speak — splatter flicks for all of the gore fiends out there. While that fact does remain evident, their second official release relied less on viscera and more on atmosphere and psychological suspense. The film I’m describing is Andreas Marschall’s Masks.
After another failed audition, Stella (Susen Ermich) is handed a pamphlet for the Mateusz Gdula Acting School for Theater and Film. Perhaps this will be her chance to get the role she’s been working towards. In order for Stella to reach that next level, however, she must partake in what is known as the Gdula method, ‘private lessons’ with the sole purpose of making a true shining star out of anyone who can withstand them. All the while, the school’s students, former and current alike, are being mysteriously murdered one by one. Will Stella be the next victim or can she escape before she is devoured completely?
Before my viewing of Wolffenstein, I sat through the trailers of the other films that ReelGore has to offer. Not being all that impressed by the Masks trailer, I naturally paid it no mind and dove into the film at hand. Fast forward a week and I decided to give Andreas Marschall’s film a fair shot. I mean, why not? I was impressed with the new distributor’s decision to release Wolffenstein, so how bad could this one really be? The answer. Not bad at all!
The trailer for Masks makes it seem like your average low-budget horror flick. Nothing really stands out and there are no real memorable clips that make you want to rush to watch it. It is completely misleading in this way. After my actual viewing of the entire film, I am blown away. From beginning to end, this is one of the most stunning films I’ve ever sat through, independent or otherwise. As soon as the score began to play and the story started to unfold, I was completely immersed. There were various points where I completely forgot I was watching a low-budget horror and couldn’t believe what I was watching.
Masks features wonderful performances from a very talented cast, lead by the beautiful and talented Susen Ermich. Her portrayal of Stella was breathtaking as she ran the gamut of every and any emotion you can think of, throughout the film’s rather lengthy 109 minute runtime.
In addition to the stellar acting, lighting and cinematography were all expertly executed. Where others have come so close over the last few years, Andreas Marschall and his crew have perfected the Italian cinema-inspired, modern-day Giallo with Masks. Any maestro of the 60’s and 70’s classic proto-slashers would be proud of what has been accomplished here.
That is not all, folks. While Masks does not rely as heavily on the gross-out factor of other German horror flicks, it still manages to feature some very impressive special effects. The kills are sparse, but when they come, they are still extremely violent and highly effective, all while looking shockingly real.
Because of the amazing special editions that companies like Scream! Factory and Arrow Films have been releasing, smaller distributors have been forced to amp up their creativity. ReelGore Releasing is no different. One of my favorite aspects of Masks is most certainly the memorable score. Included in this home release is not only a stunning high-definition presentation of the film, itself, but also a separate disc containing the entire soundtrack composed by Sebastian Leverman. The inclusion of this beautiful score is reason enough to own this Blu-ray release.
If you are a fan of the classic Giallo flicks of Bava, Argento, and Lenzi, I cannot recommend Masks enough. I can’t say enough good things about this film and I am exceptionally happy to own it in my ever-growing collection. Be sure to pick up your copy, available now on Blu-ray from ReelGore Releasing.
Masks gets a well-deserved 4.5 fencing blades out of 5 from yours truly!