Thursday, March 26, 2009

Movie Review: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Written by Scott Glosserman & David J. Stieve
Directed by Scott Glosserman

Nathan Baesel...Leslie Vernon
Angela Goethals...Taylor Gentry
Robert Englund...Doc Halloran
Scott Wilson...Eugene

This movie sets forth the concept that all the major slasher movie franchises--Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween included--are very real occurrences, and that the people perpetrating these crimes are very real as well. The 'Slasher'--a close relative of the serial killer, but a rung or two higher on the evolutionary ladder--is something feared by all of America, but they're also oddly intrigued by them. Which isn't really any different at all than our America's love-hate relationship with murder. There are entire cottage industries dedicated to collectors of murderabilia, and look at the prevalence of true crime shows on television. If you can turn on the despicable Nancy Grace and not hear her exploiting victims, then it's a good day indeed.

Anyway, a group of documentary film makers has somehow had the luck of going behind the scenes with one such slasher, the legendary Leslie Vernon of Glen Echo, Maryland, who is planning his big, bloody homecoming many years after being killed as a child. We're entering in at the ground floor, so we're privy to all the trade secrets that everyone has so long dreamed about.

You know those books that try to convince you that the fictional and fantastical is indeed possible? You know, The Science of the X-Men or The Science of Star Wars? Well then, consider this movie "The Science of the Slasher."

Surely you've always wanted to know: how does someone die as a child, only to return as a full-grown man a decade or two later, looking for revenge? How does he keep up with his victims when they're running as fast as they can, and he's only walking at a brisk pace? When they hide in the closet, why can he never find them? Why does the power go out at all the worst moments? How does he come back, just when you think he's dead? And, of course, why is there always one girl that gets away at the end?

All the answers are here in this mock-documentary. The filmmakers have obviously spent way too much of their lives watching horror movies, but for the audience, that's a good thing. Yes, this is yet another self-aware genre film, but unlike Scream and its countless imitators, they're not referencing scary movies here...because in this film, the things they're referencing aren't movies. It may be a dubious distinction, but I assure you that there are moments of genius here. It is excellently made, scripted, and plotted out. My only qualm lies in the last half-hour, where it drops the behind-the-scenes-of-a-slasher angle, and simply becomes another slasher flick. I understand that they wanted us to see the payoff after all the careful planning that Leslie put in, but, as the rest of this movie was made to point out, we've already seen all of this a hundred times before.

Still, a highly recommended film that is even better than the similarly-themed The Last Horror Movie.

Rated R
92 Minutes
United States

"She's empowering herself...with cock!"


  1. Excellent review for an excellent film, this is one of my all time favs and is one of the most underappreciated indie films to come out of the last decade. Apparently Man Bites Dog is supposed to be very similar, but not having seen it I cannot confirm or deny the fact. The final twist in Behind the Mask was so obvious and yet completely deceived me right up to the end, I cant say enough good things about the film!!

  2. great review.

    this movie was definitely a shock at being such a pleasure to watch. really glad i quit putting off watching it. 'american zombie' is another i keep putting off. i don't buy many dvd's or movies like most but this is one i would love to have sitting on the shelf to show people that haven't had the pleasure to see it or even know about it, for that matter. movies like this just don't get the promotion they deserve.


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