THE MASK (EYES OF HELL). (Julian Roffman). 83 minutes. Opens Friday (October 23). See listings. Rating: NN
Let’s be honest: if The Mask hadn’t been made in Canada, no one would ever give it a second thought.
Julian Roffman’s supernatural B-movie, released in the U.S. as Eyes Of Hell, holds a place in Canadian history as our first horror feature and our first 3D release. But after half a century – even in a new digital restoration produced by TIFF and the 3-D Film Archive – it’s of strictly historical interest.
It’s a silly, generic programmer about a well-meaning psychiatrist (Paul Stevens) who’s the newest victim of an ancient mask that’s already driven a patient to a violent end by unlocking something primitive and horrible in the wearer. The mask’s effects result in surrealistic 3D interpretive dance sequences, which are, well, enthusiastic.
The performances are stiff, and the plot is utterly basic. About halfway through, I realized I was paying more attention to the movie’s now-vintage Toronto exteriors than the characters.