I came across this whilst browsing Amazon when I was in the mood for a trashy horror. I found it in store to rent but it wasn't that easy considering it was only released this year. This was pretty much what I had expected; clichéd, nothing new, and more gore than you can shake a stick at.
Mask Maker was directed by Griff Furst who has had quite a few acting roles but nothing too major in terms of direction other than short / TV movies. It's also known as 'Maskerade', which may confuse you if you go looking for it online. I hadn't heard of this before so I doubt it was a cinema release, and unfortunately it's not really one of those 'underrated gems'. It fits in to the gore / teen / somewhat-slasher genre, so it's not one that requires much thought of effort to watch.
We're introduced to the back story first of a deformed child who is the unfortunate witness to his mother's death. Guilt and anger ridden, the boy grows in to a man seeking revenge and brutality on anyone who steps foot inside his family home. The home, a grand 19th century planatation home with enough acreage to build 1000 homes (if this were the UK), doesn't seem to have had much interest from buyers. That is, until a young man comes along and buys it for him and his girlfriend. As you do. I'd love a guy to buy me a house, put it in my name and tell me how much we could make from what's inside, let alone how much it would be worth to sell after it's done up. It's a mess to start with but the couple are, after the initial surprise shock from the girlfriend, are very happy. Friends are invited to the place that weekend to help them celebrate and that's the point when I thought 'teen horror'. You know the sort of thing; booze, nudity, and the inevitable murders that are just waiting to happen.
The friends get a strange welcome from some guys at a local store, one of which seems very nervous about the house they've just bought. I say local but it's still a way out as the house is, unsurprisingly, in the middle of nowhere. A little spooked, the girlfriend wonders why the house was such a good price to start with and why the creepy guy in the store acted strangely when she told him they'd bought it. But they get back to the house and the party is just starting, so they relax and enjoy the evening. Suddenly things aren't so much fun and one by one the kids go missing. More to the point, their faces go missing. Hence the link to the title; can you guess how the masks are made? Yes, it's that obvious.
The rest of the film then sees the 'young adults' trying to stay alive whilst also working out who's after them and what's really going on. Can they stop the mask maker before it's too late? The premise isn't original and it doesn't add anything new to the genre, though I would say there probably could have been more mindless gore and sex than there was, which was a good thing. As expected, things were rather predictable; I wasn't overly shocked at any point and by the end I wasn't surprised by anything because there weren't twists and turns that I couldn't have guessed from the outset. It's more of a mindless horror romp with a house-in-the-sticks-with-a-killer-on-the-loose meets guy-that-wants-your-face type affair.
The cast included Stephen Colletti (Evan), Anabella Casanova (Annette), Nikki Deloach (Jennifer), Ross Britz (Mike) and Lara Grice (Lydia) amongst others. I can't say as that I recognised any names or faces but that's not necessarily a 'bad' thing because the cast had a so-so feel to it, rather than simply a Z-List TV Movie feel. Whilst the characters were watchable and believable in parts, others weren't so realistic and the lack of experience or ability to really connect the actor to the character was apparent by the inability to really identify with them or feel their fear in the key moments. The girlfriend in particular, and perhaps her boyfriend, were the most easy to watch and believe. Others, however, came across as being too stereotyped, such as the strange guy at the store, and that gave the film a more amateurish feel to it.
I didn't think the atmosphere was particularly well built up either, in part because it was rather predictable and I didn't find myself really caring about any of the characters. For those who enjoy scares and find it easy to jump at the right moments, then this will probably be a more enjoyable watch for you. It did have a fairly good tempo going, keeping things ticking over and not becoming overly boring at any point, then kicking it up when the blood started being spilled.
As for the overall quality, it wasn't as much of a made-for-TV-movie that I thought it may have been. It obviously wasn't a huge budget but there was effort involved. The music matched the scenes and for the most part the direction and settings were fairly well done, at least to be watchable. None the less, nothing really stuck in my mind that much. I didn't finish the film feeling like I would have lots to tell someone about it, nor did it pop in to my mind days later. It's the type of film I could happily watch and then easily forget about.
This film, as I've already partly mentioned, could have been worse in terms of the clichés in this genre. It therefore wasn't all bad, and some parts were fairly amusing to watch. It's not one I would recommend buying but perhaps checking out if it's cheap to rent or if it's shown on TV. I wouldn't rate this film highly, but you could do worse if you want to see some idiots getting chased around and their faces made in to masks. Just keep your scare threshold low and don't expect more than the run of the mill lonely house and killer psycho horror.
DVD released 2012, running time 90 minutes, rated Certificate 18
Selling on Amazon for £8