Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Bella Thorne, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Austin Nichols, Mircea Monroe, Skyler Samuels, Joana Metrass, Ana Rodas, Michael Proctor
Written by: Shane Dax Taylor
Directed by: Shane Dax Taylor
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 80
Date: 07/30/2021
IMDB

Masquerade (2021)

1 Star (out of 4)

Artless

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This bargain-bin thriller largely fails at generating much suspense and succeeds mainly at raising questions about the low-watt brain-power of its characters, and its bizarre, baffling "final twist."

Two masked figures wait in the woods, watching a house. Inside the house are the young Casey (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and her babysitter Sofia (Joana Metrass), perhaps unwisely watching a scary movie before bed. Meanwhile, Casey's art dealer parents (Austin Nichols and Mircea Monroe) are hosting a whisky-tasting masquerade party, where Rose (Bella Thorne) is working as part of the wait staff.

She phones the two figures in the woods, and, as the party winds down, she offers to give a ride home to the tipsy parents. The figures — Patrick (Michael Proctor) and his unnamed partner (Skyler Samuels) — enter the house and start cutting paintings from their frames, intending to steal the couple's most priceless art works. But time is running out, and to complicate matters, Casey has escaped.

Masquerade starts weirdly, with the masked robbers speaking exposition to each other about their plan, even if their plan makes no sense. It hinges on them waiting until it's nearly too late to even enter the house, and then leisurely cutting. paintings out of their frames when they have no time to do so. Worse, one of the bandits must spend time hunting for Casey, so their workforce is cut in half. Not to mention: why do they need to hunt for Casey? Why not just grab the stuff and go?

Aside from a needlessly cruel murder, nothing much happens until the parents get home, and even then there's a lot of wandering around, and more strange behavior. The mother keeps trying to go upstairs and check on Casey, but for some reason the father needs her help to find a flashlight!

Thorne is arguably the draw for this one — she has had her name above the title in a number of recent thrillers — but her usual badass persona is squelched in this; she's kept out of the action for most of the running time. However, the ending of Masquerade is the movie's biggest, "what?" moment, perhaps sending some viewers back for another look, but likely irritating most others.

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