Mask of the Devil, the third feature from director Richard Rowntree and co-writer Matthew Davies after Dogged and Nefarious, opens in 1878 somewhere in West Africa. A group of Englishmen led by Captain Ladrao (Geoff Woodman) and Colonel Voleur (Tony Manders, Blood House, The Mermaid’s Curse) attack a group of tribesmen in order to steal a sacred mask and in doing so unleash something best left alone.
In the present Mary (Nicole Katherine Riddell, White Sky) is upset because her boyfriend won’t put out because God wouldn’t approve and her father treats her like a child. Deciding to get a job so she can move out she ends up working for Roosh (Kemal Yildirim, The Lorelei, Zombie Lover) a filmmaker of the adult variety. His current production is a Tarzan parody, and one of the props is a familiar-looking mask.
After the prologue, Mask of the Devil starts out on a fairly humorous note as our heroine meets the film’s cast and crew and learns just what a fluffer’s job entails. There are also plenty of jabs at not just the porn business but low-budget filmmaking in general much of it apperently taken from the crew’s own experiences. I found myself chuckling quite often.
The script for the film was something of a culmination of our experiences of working in the low/no budget indie film world over a number of years, and with some relatable stories we’d been told by filmmakers in similar situations to ourselves.Richard Rowntree
Making a film about porn that isn’t itself porn is difficult to do without looking silly because as unrealistic as porn sex can be, actors look even funnier trying to go those scenes with their clothes on. Films from Porn Shoot Massacre to Casting Couch Slaughter are proof of that. Mask of the Devil wisely stays away from the actual shooting of the production and concentrates on the oddball characters such as Otto (Alex Nathan-Woods, Enviornmental Enforcement, Mob Handed), Kimmy (Emma Feeney, Nefarious) and Mike (Martin W. Payne, I Scream on the Beach!, Hate Little Rabbit) the lecherous soundman.
Once the mask finds someone it can bond with, Mask of the Devil changes up becoming a supernatural slasher and mixing jump scares with blood and some very dark laughs. The kills range from decapitation by machete to a dildo shoved through someone’s skull. Much of it is on screen and the effects run the gamut from practical to CGI of various quality.
The characters don’t have a lot in the way of depth or backstory but the cast takes their roles on with plenty of enthusiasm. Martin Payne steals the show playing an utter scumbag, the kind you keep hoping dies next. Riddell makes an appealing lead. that you want to root for. Kemi Kentebe also stands out with a small but memorable role as yhe woman the mask was stolen from. Apart from Roosh and Kimmy the others are just there to die and don’t leave too much of an impression.
It’s all enjoyably entertaining even if it never achieves a deep sense of fear and dread. There are moments of suspense but they come mostly near the end. This is the kind of film where you know who the final girl will be and who is there to provide the body count. Mask of the Devil is like a late entry in the Friday the 13th franchise, you know where it’s going but the trip is too much fun not to take.
Mask of the Devil makes its world premiere on August 21st at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, It makes its UK debut at Paracinema with screenings on the 23rd and 26th of September. You can follow the film’s Twitter account for news of future screenings and distribution. While you wait for that, FilmTagger can suggest some similar films for you.