It’s time to look at an old horror film where Vincent Price must take the stage once more. I’ve already seen this story adapted once and it got the flat 0. That wasn’t the most reassuring moment out there but maybe this one would be better? Unfortunately that is not the case and I’m afraid that we have yet another flop here. This movie just didn’t have the skills to pull off the win.
The film starts with a village being raided by the evil prince and most of the villagers are murdered. Only 3 are spared, a girl, her father, and her betrothed. The prince decides he will break the girl’s spirit so that he can take his ultimate victory. However, the villagers did speak of a day of deliverance so the prince has to watch out.
This film deals with a lot of satanic themes as the villains worship the demon. It’s about as hard to watch as you’d expect since most of the characters are devil worshipers. That makes it rather hard to root for anyone or to stay invested in the film. It’s all about showing how evil everyone is and there isn’t really much of a point that the film was driving towards either. It’s just a lot of scenes of nothing and dreams which last forever.
This film also manages to squeeze in some animal violence just so it could tick that box as a bird quickly gets destroyed by another. It’s yet another moment where the film keeps on trying to lower the bar it has set for itself. If there was some good writing or pacing then the film could at least try to survive some of this but nothing of the sort is to be found here so the film was doomed.
Unfortunately the main character is also a disgrace here as she ultimately ends up forsaking her faith under pressure. It’s another shame that this movie throws in to undermine her character arc and to try to say that everyone would falter at some point. Yeah in this world everyone turned out to be evil so the lead had no positive influences to turn to, but I don’t see why she had to quickly throw her soul away at that point.
The brother and the father also forgot their own character arcs as they swore not to fight each other and then went up against each other in a poison dagger match. Clearly one of them would die in such a match so they were destroying each other even if it was indirectly. These are the kinds of character consistency you would expect from this film.
By the time the Red Death shows up to finish everyone off you’re just waiting for the film to end. Could he have taken any longer? The villagers should definitely be upset since the guy didn’t ultimately help them much. I suppose it also shows why you shouldn’t just trust strangers with your life after meeting them once.
The film could also be rather violent at times. The dream sequence certainly comes to mind where someone gets axes quite a bit. The film just can’t help itself it would seem. When everyone gets infected by the red death they also begin to look quite grotesque which isn’t helping the film’s case either. At least we don’t see characters chopped up like in other horror films coming soon, but this film was just desperate to get everything wrong.
If this film could have attempted to show any class it would have at least made the main heroine a little more knowledgeable so she could talk back to the prince. He likes to bring up the same old talking points like if God exists then why is everyone so evil or why he won’t personally show up to save them. Each time the main character starts to stammer or just says that she doesn’t know. Those are basically the worst answers you can give to such questions. She could have responded with the basic concept of free choice and that’s why people can still be evil or how tribulations and trials make you stronger. Instead she basically gives up, just like the film gave up on having a good story.
Overall, The Masque is the Red Death is definitely a film that I would recommend avoiding. There are no redeemable qualities to be found here. If it did anything right it is that the film isn’t super long even if it does drag for quite a while. There’s no point in watching the villain’s worship satan and the scenes are way too long. It’s why films that are all about showing how depraved humanity is will always be destined to fail. There’s just no entertainment value there. If you want to go watch a good horror film, just stick to the comedic ones.