Decades after a horrible incident where students died mysteriously after the practice of an acting teacher, Stella gets accepted to the same acting school. At first she's filled with joy, but secrets are revealed and she soon finds herself trapped while a masked killer is on the loose.
Giallo movies are mostly made as homages nowdays, similar to how exploitation are often homages too. However, exploitation movies have always been varied enough for that genre to still have unique things to offer. I am not saying giallo is totally dead, but it's not often you stumble upon a modern giallo (okay, let's ignore that they should be Italian, just to go easy on it) that doesn't reek of past greats. One of the most notable movies of recent years that brought back the genre a bit is "Amer", a movie I personally found to be rather boring. "Masks" has it beat as far as I am concerned.
Stella is a young actress trying to get into an acting school, but she keeps getting rejected. She's not good enough. After she is rejected by one, she ends up getting the advice to look into a certain school. And she does. Back in the 70's, an acting teacher named Matteusz Gdula had his own method to make actors shine. Of course, this wasn't a great method, as the students died one by one. The method has since been scrapped, but Stella soon finds out that it might actually be very much present still.
"Suspiria" quickly comes to mind when a giallo has a woman going to a new school, and it's quite safe to say that "Suspiria" is splattered all over "Masks". And so are other works of Dario Argento and fellow Italian giallo masters. It's in the lighting, the music, the kills, the overall mood. But "Masks" kinda still holds its own. I mean, it holds its own as much as any horror film that pays clear tribute to classics. The story has a somewhat intriguing ending, you keep yourself guessing about the mysterious things that happen at the school, the killer is masked and rarely shown, the kills are very good and often done by something that almost becomes a trademark tool of this movie before it's over.
Sure it lacks in some departments. There are some typical amateur holes here and there, such as the use of some sounds we've heard a thousand times before, or how they fail to fake old footage. Obviously most of the actors haven't been practicing Matteusz Gdula's method of acting, as they rarely shine. But Susen Ermich does handle the lead role very well, and is one of the stronger actors in here.
If you love giallo or just want to watch an alright indie horror, then why not watch "Masks"? I mean, if you've seen all the old great giallo's already, otherwise you should watch those first. I am personally not a great fan of the genre to begin with, yet I enjoyed "Masks" enough. Flawed here and there, a bit long, but we've all been tortured our senses with worse things before.