Reviews: The Laughing Mask

Michelle rocks out a review of indie horror, The Laughing Mask.

The Laughing Mask has some interesting ideas for a horror film, but unfortunately the acting and technical issues keep it from being a good movie. The idea of a masked killer isn’t new, of course, but they do try to give the concept some extra flair in this film. I will say, the actual mask the slayer wears is pretty cool looking, it reminds me of a cross between a deranged clown and the Spider-Man villain Venom. Also, whenever the killer commits his atrocities he plays old ’40s music in the background which makes for a creepy atmosphere. Unfortunately, it feels like they didn’t flesh out any of the story around the serial killer and everything else falls flat.

"What's in the box? Ahhhhh....A better movie!!!!"

Bad acting is a hallmark of horror films, but there is a difference between hilarious cheese factor and just plan ineptitude. Every single actor is cringe-worthy to listen to, which is partly because of the awful writing. It’s porn-caliber acting, but not in a fun way, in the kind of style that makes it hard to watch the film. This is made even worse by the terrible sound design and you can tell they used ADR (re-recording) for almost every scene--the few they didn’t have tons of background noise and hiss. It’s quite distracting and gives the movie an over-dubbed kung-fu film quality. Cinematography-wise it’s alright, but the digital camera aesthetic doesn’t do it any favors and it looks low budget.
"Want to play with my ax, mo fo?!"

They try to flirt with the “torture porn” concept at times but the use of digital blood effects makes it look tacky instead of horrifying. If you are going to go that route you better have the gore effects (preferably practical) to back it up. It also pulls punches quite a bit, it would have helped to have been more hardcore to appeal to the gore hounds. Some of the kills are interesting though and it seems as though The Laughing Mask is trying to be more of a thriller/mystery film than a straight up horror flick. While that’s not a bad thing, it makes the tone of the movie inconsistent, like it doesn’t know what sort of atmosphere it wants to convey. The musical score outside of the vintage music is uninspiring and bland—it mostly consists of bad beats looped to infinity or cliché horror music cues. 

Like this review? Please share.

StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis

On the bright side, the editing is done well and there is a sequence where old-timey cartoons are spliced between a gruesome killing to great effect. These few things aren’t enough to make the film watchable, however.  The Laughing Mask sits in that odd purgatory that is for films that are horrible but not bad enough to fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. It just seems like an unexceptional rip-off of the many other “scary killers in a mask” genre but without the fear that is needed to make it impactful.


-Michelle Kisner