This was another fearnet offering - I knew I'd watched before, but wanted to be able to give a review, so I played it again.
There are some cool things I liked about this film, and overall I think it was a solid story. We meet Henry, an average, passive guy. He is out of place in his job as part of a cutting- edge magazine. He is out of place with his bitchy self-absorbed wife. He leaves the world and those around him to run his life, and he is content, but clearly not enjoying life.
We open with Henry's morning routine - he is exercising while listening to a talk radio show. The aggressive DJ pokes and prods at a man threatening suicide. On-air, the caller kills himself. Henry is fascinated.
We glimpse Henry's girlfriend, Janine, who is irritable and refuses to acquiesce to his simple requests that she wrangle her yapping pup. He puts up with being ignored, and heads out.
At the train station, he chats with his friend-slash-financial adviser, James. Henry meekly points out that he expected more money from their transactions. James smoothly deflects, and Henry admits that the scrutiny of the statements is up to his wife. Uh-oh.
As everyone boards the train, a rude woman pushes past Henry. He fantasizes taking revenge, assaulting her. But, it's fantasy & he snaps out of it just in time to board the already-moving train.
Clearly, Henry has some latent aggression buried within himself.
At work, we continue the pattern of him being surrounded by egomaniacal, abusive users. His boss Milo Styles is the most blatantly abusive. In a meeting, he berates his staff while searching for his 'hot new cover model'. Styles' wife, Rosie, seems to be the only decent person amongst the circle of sycophants and users that Henry has found himself in. But, even she is trapped in the seedy surroundings.
Ever-pleasing Henry plans his boss's barbecue party and gala masquerade.
At the BBQ, Henry is fitted with a mask by the meek Rosie. His assignment is to make it resemble himself. Off to rejoin the party - he spies his wife wanking off his boss. He watches for a little while, but in his manner, does nothing.
On the drive home, Janine is her bitchy self, barking at a gas station attendant. He brings up what he spied. She yells at him for not saying or doing anything. She eventually drops him off at home, and speeds off - advising him not to wait up. He has another violent fantasy, but does nothing. Defeated, he undresses, and gets himself a drink.
He awakes to a startling phenomenon. His face has grown a blank white mask - much like the one he got at the party. At first mortified, he tries to rip it off. However, he becomes resigned, then elated by this powerful shield.
When he discovers his maid blatantly stealing from him - he draws on the strength of this semi-anonymity. He asserts himself...albeit overly-so. The maid ends up dead, by accident. He returns to reality, and panic, when his wife unexpectedly arrives home just after this incident. Luckily, she is completely self-absorbed and planning to sneak around, so does not notice anything.
High with the freedom of his mask, he systematically goes about confronting all those who have wronged him. There arises a question of whether he, himself, is redeemable as his behavior escalates. Even his ties to Rosie become questionable as we progress through the story. The mask doesn't leave his face throughout this revenge rampage.
The ending struck me as semi-cheesy; however, the entire film was definitely watchable. There is good character development, especially with Henry. We also see that Rosie has more depth than one would expect. She could have easily been a throwaway character. Instead, she is layered with complexity.
We watch Henry's growth (albeit not down the healthiest path), as the mask gives him confidence and strength. He retains a semblance of his humanity, epitomized in his affection for Rosie; however, he becomes far more a monster than the users around him. I also liked Peter Stormare's performance as Miles. He truly is a horny prick, but doesn't go so far as to chew the scenery. Leslie Hope stays grounded as the conflicted Rosie. And, of course, Jason Flemyng holds it together through the emotional extremes of Henry.
It's not a horror - more of a violent drama/suspense, but George A. Romero lives up to his history of good characterization and storyline. Definitely worth a viewing.