Writer Director Scott Glosserman’s film ‘Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon’ is borderline genius. Seriously. Anybody who has ever watched and half way enjoyed any kind of slasher flick should make ‘Behind the Mask’ required viewing as it was that damn good. For the most part, at least.
I’ve had this film sitting around the house waiting to be watched for a couple of weeks now and was in no hurry in the least bit to check it out. Yay, another slasher flick. How exciting. It’s not like I hadn’t seem my fair share of mediocre, run of the mill, completely unoriginal DTV and theater released horror flicks lately. So right there that movie sat until eventually it was a tossup between ‘Behind the Mask’ and ‘It’s a Boy / Girl thing’. Okay so a lame slasher flick will beat a lame RomCom pretty much every day of the week here at FCU studios. A root canal will beat out a lame RomCom on most days for that matter, so in the ol’ DVD player went ‘Behind the Mask’ and it ended up being quite the pleasant surprise.
As our film starts, a college documentary crew, led by our host and director Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals), starts out by informing us of the murderous works of Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers all of whom are actual people in this particular reality. Taylor also informs us of another tortured soul whose mother was raped and the child of that mother thrown into a river only to survive to haunt and kill the local townsfolk in revenge by the name of Leslie Vernon. Oddly enough our crew is at Leslies’ home to interview him as he prepares for his big day of slaughter. Leslie, as played with his tongue partly in his cheek by Nathan Baesel, informs us of his plan and his tireless preparation to slaughter some hapless teens who are going to spend the night at the house where he was allegedly taken from and killed. Not to give too much
away because 90% of the joy in this film is observing Leslie shed so much light on the prep time behind becoming a mad murdering teenager killer, but Leslie does give us a demo of the large amount of Cardio that he, and people like him have to do to give the illusion that they are walking while you are running your ass off, yet he always seems to be right behind you. Brilliant.
We are allowed to follow Leslie as he informs the crew about his virginal victim and how, if he plans perfectly, she should end up being his perfect foil. We meet his mentor in an old school serial killer played by the legendary (as I have already said in previous reviews) Scott Wilson, and also we get to meet the ultimate coup de grace for a crazed serial killer, the introduction of the ‘Ahab’ character sworn to stop him as played by the equally legendary Robert Englund. Taylor and her two man crew follow Leslie until it becomes time for him to begin the slaughter of his stoned out horny teenagers, as his plan has been so meticulously laid, and they have to make the decision as to actually allow Leslie to follow out his plan, or do something to try and to stop the lovable lunatic.
Did I mention that ‘Behind the Mask’ was borderline brilliant? Because it is, and all it starts with Nathan Baesel who plays Leslie with a manic child-like bubbliness and matter-of-fact glee that places you into the position of whether or not to take him seriously. He also on occasion displays his other much darker side, the side that has every intention of carrying out this murderous deed he’s so carefully planning. Director Glossman shoots the majority of his film in documentary style, using hand held cameras with a grainy mini-DV look, but on a occasion, when Leslie actually has to jump into action, the image will switch to a standard, high gloss 35mm look, complete with slasher flick score and shot angles, only to switch right back to the documentary crews’ style when Leslie is finished with his hack job. Simply brilliant.
There are loads of clever little bits in ‘Behind the Mask’ that actually have to be witnessed to be appreciated, and as I mentioned before, if you’ve seen just one slasher flick, witnessing Leslie pre-plan and pre-map the eventual routes that his prey is going to take is absolutely hilarious.
Now as good as ‘Behind the Mask’ was, and I recommend it highly, in its last stages the film actually becomes what Leslie Vernon was describing to us in his exacting detail and in my opinion it loses some of this steam when this happens. It was still very clever in the way it was setup and executed but as it’s now become a standard slasher flick it’s not nearly as charming as it was previously. I’m no filmmaker so I can’t begin to suggest what could have been done its stead, but the last act didn’t seem to mesh too well with the first two acts.
But with that being said ‘Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon’ is one of the finest, most cleverest(?), films I’ve seen in quite a while with the distinction of being that rare movie in a sea sameness that I dare call ‘unique’. Well done and highly recommended.