This year’s Chattanooga Film Festival has been home to some unique films. Brazil’s Skull: The Mask will still stand out for just how offbeat it is. A mix of horror, action, grindhouse, and what the hell did I just see, the movie seems to have a something for every adrenaline junkie. Skull is a mystical slasher film about the titular mask. Discovered in 1944, the artifact is sought after by an unnamed military. Things go awry in spectacular fashion. The mask has resurfaced in the present day and it seems to have an agenda.
This is a movie that is all about pleasing its audience. It is filled with great action scenes and tries not too let itself get bogged down by too much story. The movie slows down after its hot start, but picks up its stride before long. That being said, there are a whole lot of moving parts here. Sometimes, it feels as if things are moving too fast.
The movie truly finds itself when it becomes more of a gory action film. Make no mistake about it; this is a horror film. It is demonic and blood soaked. But Skull is at its best when it is filled with violent over the top action. The stand out moment is an amazing sword fight involving a priest and a monster. This also highlights what anyone who sees the Skull will remember the most: the gore and the creature effects. The action is filled with bodies being ripped apart, severed heads and limbs, and organs everywhere. The various creatures are frightening and disgusting.
The best parts of Skull are when it focuses on the main plot. There are plenty of characters and deep lore which sometimes causes the story to lose its way. This is more noticeable as the plot progresses. It can be nonsensical, especially when some of these subplots never pay out. Thankfully, things never stray too far ensuring the audience never gets completely lost.
The story also does a great job of building its characters. There is no question as to who the good and bad guys are. Instead of dabbling in shades of grey, Skull gives audiences characters to root for and against. There are the normal twists and turns and they are all a part of the fun. It is nice to see a movie with old fashioned heroes and villains.
Skull: The Mask is a bloody and violent action horror hybrid. The movie will immediately draw audiences in and never lets them go. The practical effects are the true stand out here. Blood is never in short supply and the next gross out scene is right around the corner. The story can be surprisingly deep for an extreme bloodbath, but it is an exciting watch all the way through.
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