Bella Thorne is a singer-model-actor-filmmaker-author-influencer who has been working steadily since she was a child — but at 23, she’s better known as a personality and social media force than for work in mostly forgettable film fare such as “Shovel Buddies,” “You Get Me,” “Midnight Sun” and “Chick Fight.” Although we’ve yet to see Thorne cast in a first-class film, she’s a natural presence onscreen and I could see her shining one day in the right project.
Unfortunately, “Masquerade” is not that project.
Thorne’s performance as a college student and waitress with a hidden and perhaps nefarious agenda is the best thing in this howler of a wannabe psychological crime thriller, a nasty little film that requires every single one of the lead characters to behave in infuriatingly dopey fashion, just so the story can keep plodding along until we’re slapped with one of the most ridiculous and maddening twist endings in recent film history.
This could have been titled, “Idiots Steal from Even Bigger Idiots.”
Our story kicks off with 11-year-old Casey (Alyvia Alyn Lind) watching a horror movie with her babysitter Sofia (Joana Matress) in a sprawling family home in an exclusive neighborhood while Casey’s parents Olivia (Mircea Monroe) and Daniel (Austin Nichols), a pair of wealthy art dealers, host a masquerade party/fundraiser where Thorne’s Rose is working as a waitress. The night is a big success, but both Olivia and Daniel have had too much to drink, so they’re going to call an Uber — but Rose says she’ll be happy to drive them home, and they accept her kind offer.
Meanwhile, back at the family home, a couple of masked intruders (more masquerade!) have busted in and let’s just say when Sofia happens upon them, well, don’t tell mom the babysitter’s dead. The intruders go about the painstaking business of separating pricey works of art from frames and rolling them into tubes (we see this process again and again and again), while little Casey hides in her room and eventually makes her way into the attic. Time and again she evades the burglars, who keep bickering with one another as they bungle their way around the house.
Rose chats up Olivia and Daniel on the long drive home. They tell her about the world of dealing in priceless works of art, and wouldn’t you know it, Rose herself is an aspiring artist. How about that! Once the inebriated Daniel and Olivia make it home, they learn the power has been turned off and the security isn’t working, but rather than immediately check on their daughter, they stumble around the kitchen, giggling and acting like fools as they search for a flashlight and Daniel decides he’ll go in the backyard to see if the power lines are down. CHECK ON YOUR KID, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
Eventually, finally, Daniel and Olivia come face to face with the horror show transpiring in their house, and there’s some more stupid behavior on everyone’s part and some cracking of bones and spilling of blood, and then that aforementioned twist is sprung upon us — and while it’s terrible and cheap and unconvincing, we’re grateful in a way because it means this train wreck has skidded to a halt.
Better luck (and script) next time, Bella Thorne. We’re rooting for you.