Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

What does it take to be the next legendary supernatural serial killer? Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a comedy exploring the slasher's plans and methodology from the slasher's point of view.

Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) is a cheerful, enthusiastic young man out to join the ranks of Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Meyers (or, as he calls them, Fred, Jas, and Mike). As he plans his spree, he has college journalist Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) along to shoot a documentary on him. Joined by two cameramen, Taylor is both repulsed and fascinated by Leslie's grand plans.

Behind the Mask explores the "famous" serial killer motif from several angles. On the practical side, Leslie rigs the potential weapons and escape routes of his victims, and he performs cardio to keep up with running victims while appearing to slowly walk behind them. Philosophically, retired serial killer Eugene (Scott Wilson) explains that their type exist to provide the evil that good must struggle against. Leslie is even very careful in selecting his targets, from the "girl survivor" who must grow from helpless victim to leader-fighter to the right sort of group that mixes jocks and geeks. And when Leslie's psychiatrist Doc Halloran (played by Bob Englung, best known as Freddy Kreuger) turns up, Leslie is thrilled: "I have an Ahab!"

Much like the Scream movies, Behind the Mask plays with the idea that the people in horror movies actually know the mechanics of horror movies. Ultimately, Behind the Mask doesn't do much to advance the genre: The first two thirds of the film walk us through the horror movie cliches we all know (and sometimes love), then the final third turns into the planned slasher flick. Nathan Baesel makes for a likeable villain, and fans of horror movies will find quite few chuckles here. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a mildly entertaining look at the slasher's world.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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