Behind The Mask : The Rise Of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Alright, this little gem is … actually kind of a stupid movie. Here’s the plot before we get started :

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, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them.

So, that about sums it up. It’s an extremely self-referential horror movie set in a universe where the big slashers were actually real people, that’s right in a world with Freddy, Jason, and Michael..there is now Leslie Vernon. The first time I saw this movie I thought that was extremely clever and witty… I was also a teenager. The references do seem sort of silly, and uninspired, but honestly it’s not a hard movie to get through.

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Along with all of the horror-references and in-jokes, there are a few horror cameos that will make any horror fan go “OH hey, its that guy!”. Most notably, of course, the man himself Mr. Robert Englund shows up as Leslie’s ‘Ahab’, and he basically coasts through the movie. On top of that, we have appearances from Zelda Rubenstein (Poltergeist) in her very last film appearance , and Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead). All of the actors turn in … totally acceptable performances. The actor playing Leslie actually turns in a pretty engaging performance and you really get the sense that he is very disturbed and at the same time charming.

The movie follows a documentary crew, and SHOULD be a found footage movie, which actually would work kind of well, and better than the movie actually does. Instead, it does the one of the two things that I hate seeing in found footage movies : it breaks the god damn format.

Some of the scenes in the movie are shot in the regular, dramatic format and some are from the perspective of the film crew. If you’re going to make one of these movies, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just pick one method of story telling. Just one. Then stick with it. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

The other cardinal sin of found footage movies will be covered at a later date, don’t worry.

Anyways, so, acting and format aside. There’s the script and the story. The story is..fine-ish, and pretty standard slasher fare. Though, if I’m being honest, I could have done with more gore. It might have filled this story with a big more action and made it more interesting to look at.

I understand what the movie is going for, and honestly I just don’t care that much. It was an alright idea, and may have worked out with different or … better execution.

Self referential horror is great, when it’s done right. The best recent example of this, in my opinion is Cabin in the Woods. This one just comes off a little on the hammy side. Everything just works out too conveniently, and I would have almost liked to see this movie as a straight up slasher movie, instead of trying to turn the whole thing on it’s head. Plus, hearing Jason referred to as “Jay” was a bit of a groaner.

Anyways, all in all its not the worst at all, but its definitely pretty silly.

Final Grade : C

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