Masking Threshold Film Review

Dealing with an abnormal form of tinnitus, a young IT worker begins a series of experiments to figure out the abnormal nature of his condition. Bringing various objects into his workshop– experimenting with frequency, pitch, and correlation between items both organic and inorganic– the young IT worker presents his finding online to mockery. Despite pressures from the outside world,  however, the experiments persist. As he gets closer to the true source of his condition, his actions turn amoral in nature- an inevitable but captivating spiral into madness.

It is pretty uncommon to come across a unique feature in cinema, not to say there is a lack of original ideas, but a fully new concept and approach is a rarity in the age of mass media. Masking Threshold marks itself as one of the most unique and ambitious found footage films ever crafted, an impressive feat in a genre already pushing the bounds of ingenuity and finding new ways to terrorize its audience.

Shot almost in its entirety with a micro lense, the cinematic experience of Masking Threshold is one of extreme discomfort in close-up views of the body and other everyday items. It is nauseating, but the hyper-focus plays into the design and narrative in an intuitive way that makes the lack of visual stability on a person or space speak perfectly to the narrative Johannes Grenzfurthner crafts.

Before touching on effective delivery, it is important to note a few observations about how the narrative is predominantly delivered. Notably, the dialogue is presented in a way that the visual elements of the production are almost unnecessary. The inner reflections of the protagonist are conveyed in the manner of a confessional. Consequently, removing any visual stimulation would still result in a story that is easy to follow- this could be a radio play. This sense of story through audio is further pushed by the painstakingly crafted sound design that bombards the audience with low hums or sharp pitches that correlate with what the protagonist is experiencing. For the full experience, a superior sound system or a set of high-quality headphones is a must as the fluctuating sound draws the viewer deeper into the broken mind of its protagonist.

There is little in the way of imagery that adds actual depth to the story itself. However, this works as a strength as it forces the viewer to be locked in a very intimate, face-to-face, confrontation with an individual who is deviating into extreme paranoia and violence. The experience is extremely intense despite the only sensations being confronted are the audience’s audio perceptions of the situation.

Over the course of an hour and a half, the sense of escalation keeps the lack of visual storytelling a moot point. Starting off as a personal experience grounded in a real condition gives a slight sense of empathy to the character. At the same time, the subject of the film is immediately unlikable, he is condescending, elitist, and a philosophical pessimist. His condition is the only aspect that starts him on a somewhat humanizing note, with the idea that his extreme hatred towards everyone stemming from an abnormal variation of a common condition presents him as both an intriguing character study and a man guaranteed to drown in the black abyss of his own devising.

If there is going to be one major quip towards the film– if not just a disconnect from the delivery choice– is its implied animal abuse throughout the production to heighten discomfort. It is important to note that the credits do reveal the only creature harmed was an ant and the rest was emulated through practical effects. However, the shock value brought into the production through the use of implied animal cruelty kind of cheapens the overall brilliance of its delivery. This also extends to some aspects of body horror in putting a micro cam on sequences such as clipping nails or popping whiteheads: shock for the sake of shock. Overall, this deviance into easy shock value is a minor issue when compared to the abundance of strengths Masking Threshold flexes extensively. Personally, this keeps it just short of a ‘perfect film’.

There are many memorable moments within the production not mentioned here, whether it be quick indulgence in meme culture amplifying levity or the extreme violence that leads to a shocking conclusion; Masking Threshold needs to be experienced. The film will shake you to the core, giving the observer a front seat view of a very sick and depraved individual- the madness is inescapable. Don’t miss your chance to check this one out!


Masking Threshold is Screening as Part of the 2022 Unnamed Footage Festival

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