While I’m waiting on my next package of goodies, I was lucky enough to be sent the link to an on-line screener (and unlucky to receive another one but that’ll have to be someone else’s problem because SOOOO BAAAADDD). In the long standing tradition of masked serial killers, Michael Aguiar gives us The Laughing Mask.
Jake Johnson’s wife is murdered and daughter kidnapped by the crazed serial killer, The Laughing Mask. Despite all his efforts to find the mad man, Jake comes up with a deadly plan: he’ll write a book about the killer and call him out on national television for being a pussy coward. THAT’LL bring the Mask to Jake for sure and then he can get his revenge.
Or then again, maybe it’ll just unleash The Laughing Mask’s wrath onto everyone else that Jake cares about. Like the plucky hard ass cop, Kate O’Malley. Or perhaps his agent, Mark. You know, in-between dishing out vigilante justice, too.
Let’s deal with some of the bad first.
The acting, needless to say, is pretty rough. I’ve definitely seen worse but not by much. Most everyone seems rather stiff and unsure of themselves. Or they’re trying to hard to emote and it throws off the flow. The characters they play are pretty cliche so that doesn’t help matters. And the director used his twin daughters to play two different characters in the movie. Made for some very confusing double takes throughout the film.
You ever see a grown man naked?
The tropes used in the story have been done so often (hence, tropes). Tough, broken but great cop; mourning husband wanting revenge; crooked cops and in-department fighting; gratuitous boobage; lame-ass ‘witty’ banter from the forensics chick; douchebag pimp; masked serial killer. The general writing feels lazy.
Now, despite all that, there are some redeeming elements here.
One is, even though there is quite of bit of CGI special effects - which mostly suck - the practical blood and gore are pretty fucking sweet. The killer’s methods of torture and killing are rather inventive. I particularly enjoyed the windup toys left INSIDE one victim. Kudos to the Mr. Aguiar on that!
The second is the serial killer himself, The Laughing Mask. He doesn’t speak throughout the entire movie but does a lot of laughing (duh). He also takes his theme music with him where ever he goes - sounds like 30s blues - so he does these little jaunty dance moves. Almost like he’s channeling the Joker or something.
As runner up, you win this lovely hatchet. Here, I'll just put in through your sternum for safe keeping.
The mask itself isn’t all that terrifying but he dresses like a Dapper Dan so the contrast between the mask and his slick outfits is a bit disconcerting. And, I’m not ashamed to admit, a bit of a turn on. Makes you want him to win, you know?
While a lot of the film is far below average, the killer and his creativity really raise that grading curve for me. Not the best film out there but it's entertaining.
2.5 Hatchets (out of 5)