Monday, October 22, 2007


In a world where Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and Jason Voorhees actually exist, there is a town called Glen Echo, where, a long time ago, a boy named Leslie Vernon was murdered by the townsfolk. Today, he’s about to start his bloody reign of terror.
And he’s bringing a documentary film crew with him…

Directed by Scott Glosserman, Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a sly and smart deconstruction of the slasher film, that, like the first two Scream films before it, has a bloody fun time getting at the heart of the genre’s conventions.
Since there is too much here that I don’t want to spoil for those who’ve yet to see it, I’ll keep this review short.
What I can say is that this is a solid entry in the annals of slasher movies that is a definite must-see, if you grew up on the genre, as I did. In Behind The Mask, you get to see the murder by numbers aspect of your average slasher movie, from the killer’s perspective. You see the hours of preparation and forethought that go into a psycho’s craft, some of which is funny, some of which is just downright disturbing, and all of which goes a long way to explain the things that go down in said average slasher movie.

What makes Behind The Mask even more of a treat are the formidable principals, Nathan Baesel (who played the religious Deputy Lewis Sirk, in the sadly cancelled Invasion) and Angela Goethals (Maya Driscoll from 24 Day 4). As Leslie Vernon and journalism grad student Taylor Gentry respectively, they anchor the piece and submit interesting, effective performances. Baesel in particular, takes a strangely textured and honest approach to the material, showing us what that relentless killer up on the screen is actually thinking as he’s stalking his prey, looking oh-so-scary as he walks, while everyone else is running their a$$es off.
Baesel gives us a curious anti-hero who comes across as very human, someone who truly cares about what he’s doing. Of course, “what he’s doing” just happens to be planning the slaughter of innocents.

From the presence of genre icons Robert Englund and Zelda Rubinstein (repeat after me: “This house is clean”), to the Kane Hodder cameo, to the visual nods to past slasher classics, to The Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” (which plays over the end title crawl), Behind The Mask is a great example of how a tired genre can still produce works that are worth a horror geek’s time and attention.

(Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon OS courtesy of; DVD cover art courtesy of

No comments: