Movie Review: The Black Mass (2023) – Cleopatra Blu-ray

February 11, 2024

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

This is one of those rare revoltin’ reviews where I discuss the execution of a film way more than it’s plot, but as your arcane asses read on I think you’ll see why…

The long and short of director/co-writer Devanny Pinn’s The Black Mass is as follows: Early in 1978, down Florida way, a true psychopath, Ted by name (Andrew Sykes), spends his morning stealing I.D.s and cash from people’s pockets and begins a day of stalking young women from a nearby sorority from the comfort of his VW Beetle and creeping on them… which never leads to anything super good, that’s for fuckin’ sure… and it well and truly doesn’t here either.

Now the difference in this familiar narrative is the way in which the material is presented. For starters we get to witness the slice of life, day to day minutiae of a serial killer at work… from picking pockets, to methodically stalking sorority sisters, to even the visualization of his off-the-charts sick fantasies (a special shout out to the practical, body-horror madness displayed here).

But, in addition to that we get to see the sorority girls/potential victims going about their daily lives… and these aren’t your normal, easy to fit in a stereotypical mold, slasher flick women, nor are they final girl style action heroes… these are just normal women, having normal (read: very natural) conversations totally unaware of the sinister surveillance taking place throughout the day, and eventually night.

In short, the cast is fantastic through and through, and as a bonus features plenty of horror biz familiar faces including: Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), Kathleen Kinmont (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Bride of Re-Animator), and Lisa Wilcox (A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child), along with modern Scream Queens Sarah Nicklin (The Disco Exorcist), and Pinn herself! We also get a solid cameo performance from Mallrat’s Jeremy London as a store clerk.

All of that adds not only to the impact of their various fates (and the immediate devastating emotional aftermath), but gives the proceedings an authenticity matched handsomely by the film’s production design that gives a real ‘70s vibe without the normal Hollywood lets throw everything that was popular in a given decade on the screen with the hopes of achieving nostalgic value (mirrored by the film’s period accurate, yet non-intrusive soundtrack). As presented here it’s a rather faithful, un-glamorized representation of the period… and yes I lived through the decade so I’m not just talkin’ out of my ass.

While the flick itself is top-notch, the special features present on this Blu-ray release offer nothing as to information relating to the production of the film, and contain only a trailer and a still slideshow. A collection of trailers for other Cleopatra releases is included as well.

Offering a fresh take on an oft related tale, Devanny Pinn’s The Black Mass is an inventive, clever, and shocking  fright flick that doesn’t shy away from showing the horrifying depths the human mind can descend to… while simultaneously presenting an impressive representation of late ‘70s America.

This is one not to miss!

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