March 11, 2010

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There are some films that are extremely difficult to categorize, and Maskhead is definitely one of them.  In some ways the film is exactly what it says: the story of Syl and Maddie, a lesbian couple who make fetish movies along with their “associates,” the Cowboy and Maskhead.  The two find their victims through a fake modeling agency that encourages its models to “believe in yourself, and the world will be your ass monkey.”  Truer words were never spoken, I guess.  On the surface, Maskhead is fetishistic torture porn.  But it’s also satire, and at times it’s very funny.  The film is largely successful at combining distinctively grisly violence with humor and clever dialogue, and as a whole it can only be described as a nightmare funhouse that is both extreme in all respects and incredibly unique.  Check out a more detailed synopsis after the jump.

Maskhead movie image (6).jpgMaskhead starts where it ends: a woman bound to a bed, but we don’t learn exactly what’s in store for her until the end, and that scene is by far the most disturbing.  We are introduced to Syl and Maddie as they are filming Maskhead electrocuting a man, and then the film cuts to a hilarious ad for SM Modeling, Syl and Maddie’s “agency.”  The ad was my favorite part of the movie, and it included my favorite line: “ambition, the thing that builds empires, and kills entire races of people.”  Syl and Maddie’s interaction is a key part of the movie, and the two actresses do have great chemistry.  Then Syl and Maddie start their interviews, where we meet Nikki Diver, who ends up starring in the funniest of the fetish segments, which include sexy cupcake frosting among other things.  We learn quickly that the supporting characters don’t stay long, to say the least, but the Nikki segment was very enjoyable.  Somehow Food Girl seemed surprised to meet her fate, but did she really think this was all on the up and up?

The film’s best character is the Cowboy, a sociopath who spends the majority of his time hitting on women in bars by telling horrible stories about slaughterhouses that somehow actually work.  Cowboy is pretty hilarious, despite his, uh, amorous exploits with the mentally disabled, which he uses as another pickup line.  And it works.  Watching him pick up chicks is so awkward, especially since the viewer knows it’ll end terribly for the women.

Maskhead movie image (1).jpgThough all of the characters are villains, the scariest one is Maskhead.  The mask itself is very effectively creepy, as are the scenes that Scott Swan and Fred Vogel feature him in, especially the scene where we see Maskhead kill a man in a mirror.  Maskhead kills one woman in a torture chair made from a shopping cart, which was very unique and creative.  As the film continues and Maskhead is featured more prominently, he just gets creepier, especially as we see…more…of him.

The writing is quite good and I liked the way the movie was shot.  The handheld cameras weren’t a hindrance and they weren’t jarring, and the actors were aptly cast and played well off one another.  The supporting characters are a highlight of the film, and they provide good unsuspecting foils to Syl and Maddie’s depraved protagonists.  Maskhead as a whole is certainly not for everyone and can be difficult to stomach, but it is jarringly unique and provides excellent moments of comedy to offset its extreme violence.  Swan and Vogel have crafted a film that is one of a kind and surprisingly intelligent, and it’s worth checking out if you’ve got a strong stomach and want something different.

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