Some movies begin with a simple plotline in mind. A writer or director decides the see the way a certain story plays out and wants to make their own twist on it. Maybe let’s try a home invasion plot and mix it with a heist-like formula. The concept sounds promising but execution is key when attempting to entertain viewers and keep their attention. The unfortunate miss in Shane Dax Taylor’s MASQUERADE is that even at a short eighty minutes, it’s hard to stay awake.
Art dealers Daniel (Austin Nichols) and Olivia (Mircea Monroe) are introduced at an upscale-looking masquerade party. The two have had a bit too much to drink and are offered a ride home by one of the bartenders, Rose (Bella Thorne). They have an eleven-year-old daughter, Casey at home with her babysitter. What the couple doesn’t know yet is that the babysitter is killed by a couple of masked intruders and now Casey is in full force survival mode.
Initially, I thought this would go the way of Becky, where the young Lulu Wilson goes brutal on her enemies and becomes a violent defender of the home. Instead, it’s a mere hide and seek game for the most part in MASQUERADE, with way too dark rooms to even see what’s going on. A couple of the characters also resemble each other so, it can easily be assumed that a character is dead but be proven wrong minutes later.
The promotional artwork utilizes Thorne up front and center, but her fans might be disappointed to find that she doesn’t really do much in the film nor is the lead. Who you might consider the lead is questionable as the film switches between characters, but not much is given for anyone to really care what happens. Thorne’s lack of impact isn’t really something to blame on her as the script doesn’t give her much to do except pretend to drive a car for the first half of the movie. Nichols is another familiar face especially for Bates Hotel fans who saw recreate the most famous shower scene in cinema history on a certain series a few years back. He plays his role as best as he can here in MASQUERADE, but his character would have benefitted from a little background in order to get hit by the so-called twist at the end.
As mentioned before, this is a short movie, but it truly feels like a chore to sit through. The glacial pacing makes the viewers wish the intruders just finish their job already and leave Casey alone. The job would go much smoother and almost everyone would have won. Instead, the scenes blend together as familiar tropes play along. With the cast and exciting storyline, I really wanted to like this movie, but, like the intruders, it just didn’t pan out the way I wanted. Overall, MASQUERADE has storylines running in different directions, but it never really comes together at the end, leaving us scratching our heads.
MASQUERADE will premiere on Digital, on Demand, and be available in select theaters starting tomorrow, July 30, from Shout! Studios.