Johannes Grenzfurthner, Samantha Lienhard
In a very tangible way, one line of dialog in this film essentially sums it all up. "Do I hear all the single-celled organisms around me?" It sounds like a pretty crazy line of dialogue, right? You wouldn't be wrong in thinking so, and yet is it any different than the random thoughts most of us have late at night? When we're on the verge of sleep? One small sentence within a film that is essentially one big monologue - and yet it stands out as the perfect descriptor. For me anyhow.
In many ways, Johannes Grenzfurthner's film "Masking Threshold" has a lot in common with the works of author H.P. Lovecraft. Not so much in the tentacle or indescribable creature department but more in the way Grenzfurthner depicts the slow-growing madness of the mind. The erosion of what we would consider sane logic. In the film, the protagonist is suffering from a form of tinnitus - or so he's told. He decides to take a few days off and explore a possible cure or, at the very least, an explanation. He credits his situation with an event that occurred years prior, when he experienced a visual distortion while experimenting with sound - and even attempts to duplicate those exact conditions to no avail.
His peers believe everything is in his head, and as you may have suspected, his experiments are not producing the results he has been hoping for. As the film progresses, the protagonist's experiments become more and more gruesome - as do his general thoughts on life itself. However, the real horror of "Masking Threshold" is more the horrors of the mind and, in this case, losing it. This is a film that balances the explorative process of science with the obsession of a decaying mind. Coincidentally? I loved it.
So, the real question - how would I describe this film? Well, reader, the word unique comes to mind. Maybe not in the sense something like this has never been done before - only that "Masking Threshold" is definitely not your traditional feature-length film. It plays out almost like a podcast, and you could, in theory, probably enjoy and follow the film in that format. The visuals, however, add an extra layer of depth. Especially during the third act and those final few minutes of the film. Which, by the way, was not only horrifying but also unsettling on so many levels. Yes. There is a difference. Anyone familiar with shows like History channels "Ancient Aliens" will immediately feel at home with the visual presentation. I'm not saying it's a clone or anything of the sort, only the editing techniques and pacing. It all works so well to add that feel of realism - that feel of the mind souring and some visual references helping it along. It's all so damn relentless. That feeling of dread slowly overtaking reason. People often talk about the "slow-burning" film, and when they do, they usually mean things go from boring to cool. In "Masking Threshold," that slow burn is so full of excellent dialog and imagery that the movie marches to its conclusion at a breakneck pace.
Yes, reader, this film allows its audience to witness the decay of a mind and perhaps even a soul. Grenzfurthner's film is like the proverbial onion in that its content is most definitely layered. From the effects of being an outcast and not understood to the eventual rejection of anything and everything logical - this movie is the very definition of going down the rabbit hole. The unique presentation only adds to the horrific charm of this flick, and for all these reasons, I have no problems awarding four and a half stars. Yes. In my humble opinion, "Masking Threshold" really is that good - and ahh, man! Those props at the end were perfect! They were props, right?