In Shane Dax Taylor’s thriller, Masquerade, an affluent family falls victim to a home invasion ploy. High-priced art brokers Patrick (Michael Proctor) and Olivia (Mircea Monroe) are out for the evening at a high society masquerade fundraiser. Meanwhile, their eleven-year-old daughter Casey (Alyvia Alyn Lind) is at home with the babysitter.
Knowing that Patrick and Olivia are across town at the party, two mysterious figures in fencing uniforms and voice modulators commence their home invasion. The plan is simple—subdue Casey and the babysitter and steal all of the valuable artwork hanging around the home. Cleary, every step was planned meticulously, except for murdering the babysitter and Casey rushing to the perfect hiding spot in the house. The pair can’t just steal the artwork. They need to find Casey before her parents return.
Meanwhile, at the party, the home invaders have a lookout. Rose (Bella Thorne) is a server at the party and keeps an eye on Patrick and Olivia acting as surveillance for the robbers. Then, as more time is needed for the heist, Rose offers to drive the slightly drunk couple home. Finally, when Rose drops off the couple, she ditches the car and joins her cohorts in completing the operation, which involves a little torture, stabbing, and gunplay.
“…an affluent family falls victim to a home invasion ploy.”
As far as a thriller goes, Masquerade plays a pretty good game of cat and mouse. It’s also a brutal game. Though bloody, the gore is not overly graphic, but the fate of certain characters is quite torturous. Much of the action centers on our villains hunting down Casey (any way possible), and then when her parents are immediately placed in danger, the eleven-year-old takes matters into her own hands. Although the art heist may not be Ocean’s Eleven exciting, it effectively sets the stage for the ending.
I continue to be impressed with Bella Thorne. I have a child old enough to have been obsessed with the Disney Channel show, Shake It Up and have seen many Disney child stars succeed but mostly fail. We reviewed several of her comedies and thriller, and Thorne continues to be a presence on screen and rarely feels like she’s phoning in ay of her performances. It’s still true in Masquerade as she transitions from accomplice to ring leader and carries the acting load for team villains. The story revolves around the parallel storylines of Thorne and Lind.
The issue I had with the film is its story structure leading to the ending. Without getting into spoiler territory, I kept asking myself the question, “Why?” Why is this crime happening? Why this family? Why is the family being played this way? Finally, we see the invasion and the heist play out, which is exciting, but without knowing the reason for the crime, I was left disconnected as the story played out. My questions we answered…but in the end. The point of the entire film is about the final revelation, which to the film’s credit, is pretty cool in a morality tale way.
The problem I had is 70 minutes is a long time to ask questions in my mind. Putting someone in danger is not enough these days to emotionally connect audiences with protagonists. But the ending does have a pretty good payoff to push Masquerade over the recommendation line.
"…Thorne continues to be a presence on screen..."