When horror called itself out in 1996’s Scream, people thought that the slasher film was dead. Yes, it had been dying a slow death since the mid 80s, but with Matthew Lillard and Jamie Kennedy spitting out rule after rule from the movies that all horror fans knew, and the general public getting an opportunity to grasp, the years of a masked maniac making people shiver in their sheets were behind us. Then, with Jason and the Leprechaun going out in space, proof was there that the mockery was spreading to the makers of the genre films that that spawned the genre to begin with: the days of slasher films were done. While it in no way breaks new ground, Mask Maker proves that there can still be fun times had with the genre. Director Griff Furst (Lake Placid 3) pays homage to Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface all in one character, making for in my mind was one hell of a ride.
Yes, Mask Maker is a slasher film that brings back the unstoppable killer. It revolves around Jennifer (Eliza Dushku-voiced Nikki DeLoach) a career oriented girl who looks forward to celebrating her birthday with her boyfriend Evan (Stephen Colletti) and friends. Little does she know Evan has bought the ultimate birthday present: a fixer-up house that he bought on a steal. What was not on the documents he signed, however, was that the house has been the home of a killer who wears flesh masks of each kill and kills anyone who gets in his way. This history gets revealed gradually, but will Jennifer and her friends make it out alive? Or will they join the path of bodies the killer has walked?
Original? No, not really. But, in a way, that is part of its charm. With torture porn and found footage dominating the horror genre the past decade, I was anxious to see if someone had the balls to make those of us who have worn our Friday The 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, and Halloween sets out and give them a new killer. Complete with “kids” who look to be in their mid twenties, cameos and roles from stars of horror films past (it was nice seeing Michael Berryman and Terry Kiser again), some pretty brutal kills, and, yes, nudity as well, Furst brings his stalker film a-game to this film. I enjoyed how the plot point of the killer changing masks after every kill to the face of his last victim comes into play, and DeLoach made for a pretty likable lead actress (and, yes, it does help that she is VERY hot).
The film does have its flaws. It tends to drag at times such as a needless camp fire scene, and the dynamic between DeLoach and Colletti gets rudely interrupted when their stereotypical friends show up and you know they are there for one reason: to up the body count. But, I didn’t mind that because the deaths in this film, while sometimes off-screen, take you by surprise at how brutal they are. It was also cool that the killer on display here does not even have an official name. No moniker-just brutality. Think about it: how scary was Freddy when during the first hour of Nightmare on Elm Street you didn’t even know his name? Does it make this film frightening? No, not really. But, it was nice to bring back that hint of past horror lore. I would also like to add that the music score on display here is better than average for a direct to DVD film, and it was very effective when it needed to be, and also sounded almost epic at other times. So, if you are in the mood for the type of slasher film that has been missing for years, you can do way worse than watching this movie. With a final act that pays homage to Halloween and even Friday the 13th Part 2, Mask Maker makes for an enjoyable hour and a half. Turn out the lights, light some candles, and get your retractable blades ready-Mask Maker is ready to stalk! And he doesn’t need to call and ask if you like scary movies to kill.