Starring Christian Twiste “as himself”, MASTER PIECES left me feeling the same way 2020 has made me feel so far – confused, frustrated, and exhausted. There was never a point in the hour and twenty five minute run time that I felt like I “got” this movie, or that I was onto the twists in the story. Now, this may make it sound like a riveting mystery, but I assure you – MASTER PIECES plays like the script was written during a drunken game of Mad Libs – no higher thought, no tangible through lines, and no sense. Christian (Christian Twiste) is newly married. His wife (Lisa Goulian), fittingly (and misogynistically) billed only as “The Wife”, is an overbearing, hen pecking, brow beating shrew. Christian is a schmuck himself, unemployed, and weirdly obsessed with a radio talk show hosted by Dr. Brenda Dobbs (Tesia Nicoli). When Christian tries to call through to Dr. Brenda, he is instead connected to the “Federated Collections Agency”, where a voice an awful lot like his informs him that he has a debt to settle and they will help him to do so. This is the beginning of Christian’s run-ins with the “FCA”, which will haunt him to the last frame of this film. What could be a riveting tale of obsession and one man’s mental undoing instead is a nearly comical disaster, swinging wildly between slasher and drama without any sort of directive or meaning behind any of the plot points. In a strange move that could have been meaningful, the hiring recruiter at the FCA (where Christian tries to get a job – and no, I still don’t understand this part of the story) is also played by Nicoli. As she is a Dr. Brenda lookalike, this triggers Christian’s obsession and throws her life into a Laurie Strode-esque nightmare. However, even this bold choice is met with zero follow through – and the little twist and background it does get is delivered in such a non-committal way that it plays like nothing at all. Ultimately, that is the tragedy of MASTER PIECES. Each plot point and each move is given such a lackluster delivery that it feels like nothing is happening – and even now as I write this I find myself thinking, “What the f did I just watch?” MASTER PIECES consists of mistakes and errors as embarrassing and varied as a struggle with a locked door that is clearly unlocked and opening as Christian “struggles”, bad wig placement including natural hair peeking out under the wig, and some of the most egregious over-acting I’ve ever seen – and I used to teach drama to teenagers. At one point Hamilton (Ryan Macnamara), the police officer that is somehow involved in all of this, rips off his com which he’s been using to communicate with his superior. Rather than the sound of his voice getting farther away or quieter, the actor doing the voice (Writer and Director Geoffrey Cianni) sounds like he literally put his hand over his mouth, or maybe shoved some marshmallows in his cheeks. The errors and goofy choices are so appalling I started to believe maybe they were on purpose – in attempts to win the cult-like audience of something like The Room or any of the films of Neil Breen. For whatever reason our protagonist spends the last fifteen minutes of the film in a Michael Myers style set of coveralls… with a Phantom of the Opera mask. The score is a dizzying concoction of stock sounds and royalty free Christmas music. There’s a sequence which includes pulling back the plunger of a clearly empty syringe – with no bottle or so on attached to the (huge and unrealistic) needle – and then shooting up the patient with … nothing? You can literally see the air inside the syringe. But boy does he react (and overreact) to whatever is supposed to be inside! MASTER PIECES is without a doubt one of the most confusingly unnecessary films I’ve ever seen. The redeeming factors – a decent performance here or there, and an altogether just about satisfactory production value – are nowhere near enough to make up for this disaster of a film.
Makeup Artist, Monster Maker, Educator, Producer, Haunt-lover, and all around Halloween freak. When Miranda isn't watching horror films, she's making them happen. When she's not doing either of those things, she's probably dreaming about them. Or baking cookies.