Skull: The Mask
by Hope Madden
Practical effects, hallucinatory sequences and a throwback exploitation vibe keep Skull: The Mask interesting enough to watch.
The film’s opening is its strongest segment, a grainy video portrayal of a 1944 political bloodbath with the goal of enacting an ancient pre-Columbian ritual. Directors Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman bring a retro violence to the effort that makes the most of limited resources.
Flash forward 60 years or so and we move from the Amazon to Sao Paulo and a convoluted police procedural led by a one-note performance from Natallia Rodrigues as Det. Beatriz Obdias. She’s bad news! Damaged goods!
She also has no idea how to treat a crime scene, but there’s a lot of questionable policework going around, with no real leads to connect these corpses strewn from one end of town to the other. All of their hearts are missing. Sometimes their guts. Once in a while their faces.
The best thing about Skull: The Mask is Furmam’s extensive background in gore effects. You’ll find plenty of it here, some of it inspired, all of it bloody. The goregasm is in support of a story of a marauder in a stone skull mask, the same cursed mask from the 1944 massacre.
Brought to Sao Paolo by nefarious men with nefarious intentions, it falls into the wrong Goth girl’s hands early on and soon there’s a housecleaner ripping the hearts and guts out of club kids, drug dealers and priests all over town.
Does it make sense? Not really. Does it have to? Probably not. The film is a callback to a style and brand of movie that didn’t need an airtight plot or convincing performances as long as it did very nasty things in novel ways to the human body.
Skull: The Mask is a pretty dumb movie. Hell, even the title is dumb. But it knows where to invest its energy and money, and you cannot say it skimps on the goods.