George A Romero’s psychological black comedy is something of a surprise for me. I really like Romero. He’s a master of characterisation, social issues and fine cinematography and editing, but for some reason I’ve kept away from this movie. Released in 2000, it feels like a slightly different approach for Romero. The characters are still filling the screen in realism with a great script to work with and developing the simple plot through theatrical performance. Branching into a fantastical place 40 minutes into the film, the viewer is left wondering what state of reality is the protagonist in, given earlier day dreams of brutal violence.
Jason Flemyng’s character, Henry is taken advantage of from all sides; his girlfriend, his boss and his best friend. He’s a gutless man but something has gotta give. After a bout of varying violence, Henry awakes with a white mask replacing his usual features as he takes on a new persona with a vendetta.
It’s all quite good, fun and light but seems to lose its way a little towards the later part of the film and it actually feels like Romero is losing interest in the production. Flemyng is good, believable in his changing role and it’s good to see his versatility at work here. Peter Stormare is cartoon like in his approach as the egocentric boss and Nina Garbiras also performs well as a real bitch of a girlfriend who gets what she deserves. There are some nice homage’s too, intentional I’m sure, Phantom of the Opera and I can’t help thinking that the mask is very Mike Meyers, even Jason like, with Romero maybe trying to offer a ‘real’ reason for a person to flip and go on a killing spree rather than the usual ‘born evil’ excuse of popcorn stalk n slash.