Director – Scott Glosserman
Cast – Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Robert Englund, Scott Wilson, Zelda Rubinstein, Bridget Newton, Kate Lang Johnson, Ben Pace, Britain Spellings
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Once again a film that was overlooked by the Hollywood market wows viewers with it’s originality and sincere horror filmmaking. The film this time…is “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”. This flick gives us a look into the serial-killer sub-genre we seldom get, and gives us something to remember. Not since “Shaun of the Dead” have we had a horror shout-out this good.
The small town of Glen Echo has a rumored past, one that includes the story of Leslie Vernon, a boy thrown off a waterfall by town patrons who believed he was demon possessed. Glen Echo also has a new resident in town. His name? Leslie Vernon. Deeming himself as the next up and coming killer after the likes of Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, and Freddie Krueger, he allows a documentary film crew to follow him around and see what the life of a serial killer is like. He teaches them how serial killers work, and the laws of the serial killer sub-genre. The documentary team realizes that they have gone far enough when they bear witness to the beginning of a long though-out murderous rampage by Leslie. The team can run, or they can try and stop him. Guess which one they chose…
This flick does for the slasher fans what “Shaun of the Dead” did for the zombie fans. A true shout-out that pokes at all of the clichés of the slasher sub-genre, this is made for the fans and will please the fans. Don’t expect an outright horror film with this one, because that is not what you’ll get. This is mainly a dialogue driven film that uses Leslie Vernon to explain the notions and elements of the slasher sub-genre. He thoroughly explains all the clichés we see in those films, and with awesome fashion. If you didn’t think there was logic behind the jock and his girlfriend getting killed while having sex, and the virgin being the last one alive…you will after viewing this piece. It’s obvious writer/director Scott Glosserman and co-writer David J. Stieve are big fans of the genre and you can see the sincerity in their work. I mentioned this flick being the “Shaun of the Dead” of the slasher realm, but in all actuality…this one does more for it’s sub-genre than “Shaun of the Dead” did for it’s sub-genre. “Shaun of the Dead” was a nice parody(and superior film), but did not delve as much into zombie lore as this flick did for slasher lore.
The direction for this film is good, and I’m glad that although this film is set as a documentary it does not incorporate the hard to watch shaky-cam movements other films like this use. Bravo on that. The performances in this film are great, especially that of Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon. He really incorporates an iconic slasher very well. The difference between great slashers and lame ones is that the great ones are able to draw sympathy from the audience when we see how troubled and fragile they are. At the same time they have to take us to the opposite extreme when we see just how soulless and maniacle they are when the killing ensues. Nathan Baesel does both perfectly. As if this film couldn’t get any cooler, Robert Englund has a nice supporting role as a Dr. Loomis-esque character who is tracking down Leslie Vernon. I mentioned this has a lot of shout-outs right? But wait…there’s more! We even get legendary Jason Vorhess actor Kane Hodder as a resident who refuses to speak to the documentary crew…a resident who lives in the former Michael Myers house in Haddonfield, Illinois! Just plain AWESOME.
I only have one pseudo complaint for this film, the lack of gore. Now I may get some hate for this, but read on before you make your judgment. Although we get a fair amount of kills in this flick, we don’t see very much gore aside from one scene where a man’s heart is ripped out with a pole digger. Pretty sweet kill. Anyway, I know that a lot of slasher flicks don’t incorporate much gore and instead aim for tension and suspense, like “Halloween“. BUT, this film parodies Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers, not JUST Michael Myers. Because Jason and Freddy were gore fiends, that means that of the three subjects this film is based off of, 66% of them gave us some gory f*ckin movies. So naturally…we should see a fair amount of gore, at least 66% percent worth. Instead it came off on the gore-meter at about where the earlier Michael Myers flicks wound up. It’s not really a bad thing, but I wanted to see a better representation of the three characters, regardless of Michael Myers being the most iconic slasher of all time. Although Jason has the most kills of the three and already kicked one of their asses, he would most likely destroy Michael as well. There, I said it!
Overall, this is an awesome flick that is sure to please fans of the slasher sub-genre. This film is the “Shaun of the Dead” for slashers, and is one of the most original horror film’s I’ve seen in a very long time. Definitely recommended.
– I ranked this film #36 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(31-40) post.