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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: April 22: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon


April 22: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

"The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo."

   Behind the Mask is a funny little movie. In a world where classic horror icons co-exist (Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees), a man named Leslie Vernon attempts to follow in their footsteps and become the next horror icon. He gives a documentary crew an inside look into his world and how he's gradually setting up his own little massacre in a quiet, unsuspecting town. The film mixes elements from Scream and Halloween, and has as much laughs as it does blood. The film is a tongue and cheek play on the entire horror genre. As Vernon prepares for his kills, he talks about good cardio (so he can continually chase his victims through the woods without getting winded) and how picking the group of teenagers he will kill is the most important part of it all. He talks about the victims needing healthy libidos, "variety" among the group and, most importantly, a virgin girl to become the "survivor girl" who he can continually haunt for years to come. 

Mothers of gods do not count

    Behind the Mask is a smart comedy for the most part and then a bloody good slasher flick for the rest. Nathan Baesel, in his film debut, plays Leslie Vernon. He has great charisma and charm and his serial killer alter ego is not what you'd expect. He reminds me a little bit of Norman Bates in Psycho, as the everyday nice guy with one hell of a dark secret. It's only when the filmmakers following him learn more about him that his darkness is revealed. When one of his early "hauntings" of his target survivor girl goes wrong and is interrupted by a former psychiatrist of his, Vernon becomes hysterical; happy as hell to see that he finally has an "Ahab", a man willing to do whatever it takes to see his downfall. It is an idea we're accustomed to seeing but never had a name for and is a clever little addition to the film. 

It's a little creepy as well. 

   Overall, I would definitely recommend Behind the Mask. It's a fresh look at an increasingly unoriginal genre that turns the tables on the whole slasher story. It's an almost behind-the-scenes making of a special feature starring a new horror icon, detailing the setup as well as the execution. The film works off cliches we've come to know in this particular genre and makes them its own strengths. While for the most part Behind the Mask is entertaining, it does suffer from cheap production values. There is also not enough blood and gore to call it a true slasher film and the killing part, oddly enough, could have been built on much more. Even with all of that, it's a great buildup to a possible new franchise and I'd much rather watch more of this then another Saw or Paranormal Activity

The Good:
a smart comedy about the horror genre
The Bad:
poor pacing in some parts with a handful of really boring scenes
The Ugly:
cheap-ish production value that seems to be the cause of the lack of blood and gore

Overall: 7.1/10


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