When a film fails to do anything more than showcase flashy, admittedly impressive special effects, can it really be recommended? The new Shudder slasher, Kapel Furman and Armando Fonseca’s Skull: The Mask, sadly has little depth beyond its blood and gore. The clunky opening starts us in 1944, where the Mask of Anhanga, an ancient artifact, is used in a failed military experiment. In present day, the Mask gets scooped from the Amazonian wilds and brought to the city of San Paulo by a spunky archeologist. It possesses a body and immediately engages on a murderous rampage. The only possible thing standing in its way is policewoman Beatriz (Natallia Rodrigues), who is charged with investigating this horrific string of murders.
The over-the-top kills here are disgusting, putting practical effects work on display over tacky CGI. These elaborate death sequences stand as Skull’s crowning achievement. When the killer begins hacking his way through a booming party, Skull reaches its brutally satisfying peak. Some hand-to-hand combat segments teeter on the side of silly. The camera shakes and cuts in a frustrating way that took me out of the movie. Each time the film shifts focus away from the nasty kills, the pace screeches to a halt. Skull: The Mask is like two distinct halves of a hollow whole that can barely stand on its own two feet. Bizarre hallucinations, weird rituals, campy dialogue and dull police melodrama have a hard time convincing me that Skull: The Mask is anything but a throwaway foreign slasher.
Skull: The Mask tears open chests when it premieres exclusively on Shudder on May 27th.