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THE LAUGHING MASK (review)

Review by Dean Galanis
Produced by Bravestar Pictures
Written and Directed by  Michael Aguiar
Starring Rohnja Morrow, Gabriel Lee, Inge Uys,
 Manny Dortanieves, Flavia Falquetti, Laura Bush,
Sheyenne Rivers, Fran Rafferty, Trina Christine Mason,
Isis Masoud, Brent ‘Clutch’ Gaubatz, Anthony Giovanni Elias

Slasher film stars John Hardy as Jake, a man who has lost his wife at the hands of The Laughing Mask killer, a serial killer who hides behind an ostensibly scary mask distinguished by a frozen rictus.

Jake’s daughter has recently been kidnapped by the same lunatic, and Jake must team with Detective Kate O’Malley (Sheyenne Rivers) to track him down before it’s too….yawn…

The Laughing Mask is pretty close to bottom-of-the-barrel.

The acting is unspeakable, the writing inexcusable, the direction and photography very, VERY amateur hour.

The depiction of police procedural actually angered me; it appears to have been conceived and executed by people whose only experience with actual police work is having seen one episode of Adam-12 when they were kids. 

It truly felt like watching members of a crappy college’s frats and sororities playing dress-up in a grade school play. The crime scenes each have about four or five “professionals” present, trading infantile barbs and unfunny, flat-out offensive sexual “jokes” while barely even attempting to do their jobs.

Incorrectly and unrealistically, to boot.

Rivers (who, while attractive, appears to be the love child of Julianne Moore and Robert Z’dar) comes off best, which is to say, she has nice hair.

Seriously, the acting ranges from hilarious to obnoxious; I don’t know the background of this movie, but it reminded me of bad student films where the director cast people in his immediate proximity as opposed to, you know, holding auditions and attempting to find talent.

The writing is full of dull clichés and often risible dialogue.  You know you’re in trouble when a character says, “You know, if this were a crappy movie, right now you would ask me –“.  At least theses guys are self-aware.

The editing renders scenes nonsensical and annoying, but my sympathies lie with the editor, as I’m sure he or she had NOTHING to work with. There are more than a few cuts that are so incompetent and pointless they made me laugh out loud.

On the plus side, the killer’s use of crooner tunes and creepy old cartoons is a nice touch that could have been scary in a better film.  It works here for a while, but becomes tiresome fairly quickly.

Also, the big revelation scene actually is done with some style (!), but the acting kills what could have been a halfway effective moment.

And if you’re a big fan of torture porn (I’m not), despite the major incompetence on all fronts, some of the killer’s methods still pack a bit of a punch.  I mean, any monkey can bluntly film someone thrusting a blow torch into a victim’s mouth, but just because it ain’t Hitchcock, doesn’t mean I won’t squirm.

But so what?  This whole movie is “any monkey” filmmaking, so even slasher film completists should steer clear.  This makes Splatter University look like The Cabin in the Woods.



The Laughing Mask will be released in 2016
For more details, visit Facebook.com/TheLaughingMask
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