If you know anything about me, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that whenever a film can offer up a new perspective and/or a buffet of mind-blowingly cool special effects, I’m totally and completely on board, which was absolutely the case for Skull (which also goes by Skull: The Mask). A Brazilian horror/police thriller mashup that truly left my jaw on the proverbial floor numerous times, Skull is one of those films that needs to be seen to be believed, and my hope is that genre fans will get an opportunity to catch up with it sooner than later.
Skull kicks off with a prologue that takes us back to the February 1944, where we watch as a rare and dangerous artifact—a skull—is being utilized by a military group for nefarious reasons deep in the Amazon forest. We watch on as a blood-soaked, violent ritual is carried out, and considering the amount of carnage left behind, it’s clear from the start that Skull is about to throw some serious shit our way, and this writer was more than ready for it (or so I thought).
The story then picks up in present times as we follow detective Beatriz Obdias (Natallia Rodrigues), who is working on a case involving a string of child disappearances. As her frustrations mount over the lack of leads, Beatriz finds herself being pulled into an investigation of a brutal double murder, which also happens to be tied to the mask from the intro, where it’s been recently excavated and has ended up in the wrong hands, or on the wrong head, to be more specific.
From there, a blitzkrieg of butchery follows in Skull, where Beatriz, hot on the trail of this supernaturally charged killer, crosses paths with the likes of a shady business man who goes by the name of Mr. Tack, a dock worker trying to protect his family’s legacy, and eventually the unearthly exterminator who has left a bevy of decimated bodies in its wake.
For whatever narrative shortcomings it might have, Skull: The Mask more than makes up for on a visual level, delivering up some of the most wonderfully grotesque cinematic deaths I’ve seen in years. In fact, there’s a gore gag in the first three minutes of the film that left me cackling like a madwoman, and that’s precisely when I knew that Skull was going to be (as the kids say) precisely my jam. Beyond that, faces get brutally peeled off, heads get violently stomped, rib cages are cracked open with relative ease, and several characters have their hearts plucked straight out of their chests to boot. Also, I must say that Skull: The Mask serves as an excellent reminder that more movies should take advantage of choking out their characters with intestines, because it’s always badass.
With Skull: The Mask, Brazilian filmmakers Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman have crafted an ambitious demonic-fueled slasher that’s destined for modern cult status, and whether you’re a diehard gorehound who digs on “carnage candy” (a term Randy throws around in Scream 2), or you’re just into horror that confidently delivers up a ferociously fun time, Skull is without a doubt a must-see for all genre fans.
Movie Score: 4/5
In case you missed it, visit our online hub to catch up on our previous coverage of the 2020 Chattanooga Film Festival.