Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

September 11th, 2007 by Ghost

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Written and directed by first timer Scott Glosserman, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon attempts to fall somewhere between Halloween and This Is Spinal Tap. Unfortunately, it fails to hit the mark and what we’re left with is a generally enjoyable though jarringly confused and misguided mockumentary about future horror movie style serial killer Leslie Vernon.

In a world where movie icons Freddie Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers (among others) are reality, grad student film-maker Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) and her duo of inept cameramen set out to explore and expose the motives behind the coming killing spree of an aspiring psychopath. Played as a sort of sociopathic cross between Jim Carrey and Ryan Reynolds by Nathan Baesel, Leslie Vernon is a hardworking overachiever in the field of supernatural serial killing. When he’s contacted by Taylor, Leslie is already hip deep in preparing for his biggest spree yet; the one that will vault him into the realm of “industry” legends like Myers or Voorhees.

What follows is a fairly entertaining deconstruction of the horror film genre. Leslie allows Taylor and her crew to film him as he trains and prepares for the big night, works out his group of horror movie cliché victims, and rigs the spooky old house where the killings are scheduled to take place. When the night finally arrives, however, Taylor and her gang don’t have the stomach for it and, in a display of compassion, are forced out of the house by Leslie. This is his night to shine and Taylor and her crew aren’t part of the equation…OR ARE THEY!? Brilliant. Flag down that truck, would you? I can see it coming from a mile away.

Empowered with a sudden sense of heroism and refusing to leave well enough alone, Taylor convinces the crew to go back into the house to try and save the kids from Leslie. It’s at this point that the film switches from the two camera documentary style and into a completely limp overly generic teen splatterfest. Unfortunately, the movie just falls apart. The film has been so goofy up until this final leg that you can’t take any of it seriously and why the director chose to make it a traditional horror flick at the very end is anyone’s guess. Had it stuck to the established documentary formula the results might not have been so disappointing.

It isn’t a total loss, though. Up until the terrible ending the movie is genuinely entertaining and the overall execution of the premise isn’t bad. The performances are mostly decent all around and horror buffs should get a kick out of seeing some familiar faces and hearing their favorite characters talked about by adoring imitators and students. It’s just too bad the film chooses to limp across the finish line rather than sprint.

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