In the Anhangabuá Valley deep in the Amazon Forest respected archaeologist Galvani Volta oversees a dig, but the funding for the expedition is provided by less-than-respectable businessman Tack Waelder who wishes to user her expertise to locate a specific object; returning to São Paulo with the skull mask, Galvani’s girlfriend Lilah feigns ignorance of what she carries but has her own interest in the relic…
Manco Ramirez is a former guerrilla fighter whose father was witness to the last surfacing of the mask at the hands of Nazi occultists; with his former associate, Padre Vasco Magno, they must find the mask and ensure it is returned safely to the earth, but with a trail of mutilated bodies across the city the authorities are already involved in the form of disgraced detective Beatriz Obdias, reassigned from the case of three missing children.
Written and directed by Armando Fonseca and Kapel Furman and playing to their love of horror, wrestling and practical effects, Skull: The Mask (Skull: A Máscara de Anhangá) is refreshingly unpretentious and unfettered by the associations of mainstream supernatural horror cinema, drawing instead on pre-Colombian mythology.
Opening with the thwarted blood rituals captured on film in 1944 before moving swiftly from the jungle to the city, São Paulo is a modern metropolis a world away from the rainforest yet it suffers from the maladies which taint much of Latin America, founded on a mixture of corruption, religion, poverty and drug dealing where Obdias may not have been assigned to the case to solve it but with the expectation she will fail.
The killings frequent, the blood copious, the weaponry inventively drawn from internal organs and reliquaries, Skull: The Mask is deliciously crafted yet while the prosthetics and the gore cannot be faulted, the dismembered pieces never come together quite as gleefully as they should, the over-the-top violence requiring a correspondingly heightened experience which rarely manifests.
With Natallia Rodrigues as Obdias, Wilton Andrade as Ramirez and Tristan Aronovich as Waelder’s henchman Nobuto, their dedication and talent and that of the creatives is evident, but given the evidence presented the final push into the realms of a bloody vision of cosmic madness should have been fully achieved rather than only teased.