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MASKING THRESHOLD

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by Johannes Grenzfurthner

grade: 7

Masking Threshold is the film we do not expect. A film with a hybrid form, which following an initial documentary approach slowly takes on the connotations of a horror film in a crescendo of tension and humour. Johannes Grenzfurthner drew heavily from the modern social media language and, specifically, from YouTube. His Masking Threshold thus becomes, at the same time, a deep, semi-serious reflection on the world we live in and on society. At the Diagonale’22.

Experiments

Science. Technologies. YouTube. Disturbing sounds and unconventional experiments. Young filmmaker Johannes Grenzfurthner has staged all this in his feature film Masking Threshold, presented as part of the programme of the Diagonale’22. Already from a brief, summary presentation, then, Masking Threshold seems to be a quite unique feature film and a courageous and somewhat crazy experiment, in which the director’s own enjoyment in staging it is evident.

A young computer scientist who has long suffered from a severe form of tinnitus decided to take a few days off in order to investigate the strange sounds he hears every day due to his illness. A room in his house has practically become his laboratory. Molecules, particles, computer images or observed through a microscope immediately become the absolute protagonists along with distorted and disturbing sounds. Meanwhile, the protagonist’s voice accompanies us throughout the vision and through his words we learn about his story. Things, however, soon take a different turn.

Masking Threshold is the film we do not expect. A film with a hybrid form, which following an initial documentary approach slowly takes on the connotations of a horror film in a crescendo of tension and humour. Johannes Grenzfurthner drew heavily from the modern social media language and, specifically, from YouTube. His Masking Threshold thus becomes, at the same time, a deep, semi-serious reflection on the world we live in, on society, on what society itself expects of us and, above all, on how modern technology and science have changed our lives.

Everything happens very quickly in Masking Threshold. Everything is shown to us exclusively through the words and perceptions of the protagonist. Colourful, undoubtedly fascinating images alternate with computer monitors, words after words, and seemingly incomprehensible scientific terms. Then, slowly, the protagonist’s world is ‘contaminated’ by external presences. What will this lead to?

Special effects reminiscent of Dario Argento’s early films are the perfect crowning glory to a completely unconventional story, a story that on the big screen looks just like a Youtube video, but pays homage to the horror cinema of the 1970s and 1980s, while at the same time creating something totally original. Masking Threshold aims first and foremost to astonish and shock, but also to entertain the viewer without ever taking itself too seriously. An enjoyable divertissement with a sophisticated and innovative aesthetic. A real breath of fresh air within contemporary Austrian cinema.

Original title: Masking Threshold
Directed by: Johannes Grenzfurthner
Country/year: Austria / 2021
Running time: 90’
Genre: horror
Cast: Ethan Haslam, Katharina Rose, Johannes Grenzfurthner, Jason Scott Sadofsky, Bronwynn Mertz-Penzinger, Caroline St. Clair, Ishan Raval, Kudra Owens, David Fine, Offerus Ablinger, Roland Gratzer, Matthias Ramon Jaklitsch, Harald Homolka-List, Paul Poet, Kero Fichter, Jasmin Hagendorfer, Patrick Michael Greene, Max Grodenchik
Screenplay: Johannes Grenzfurthner, Samantha Lienhard
Cinematography: Florian Hofer
Produced by: monochrom OG

Info: the page of Masking Threshold on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Masking Threshold on iMDb