Review

Review

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007)

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Take the affectionately on-target satire found in Christopher Guest's best comedies and mix it up with the self-aware horror geekism from Wes Craven's "Scream," and you've got Scott Glosserman's "Behind the Mask," a smart, witty, and entirely entertaining mockumentary that never takes itself seriously, and pays homage to the slasher sub-genre in extremely fine fashion.

Leslie Vernon has been training for this. He's about to make his leap from obscurity to superstardom, entirely confident that his name deserves to be mentioned alongside the true legends: Jason Voorhees, Michael Meyers, Freddy Krueger ... Leslie Vernon?

Watch as a daring crew of documentarians interview the alarmingly charming serial killer! Join in as he shows them the tricks of the trade and introduces the filmmakers to an old slasher who's now living in blissful retirement! Cower in fear as Leslie stalks, teases, and (ultimately) terrorizes a gang of clueless students!

Although Behind the Mask is much more of a comedy than it is a horror flick, it's entirely clear that the young Mr. Glosserman was raised on only the finest in Vintage American Slashers. His flick goes one step further than Scream did by allowing his killer to be the subject of an ongoing documentary production. Vernon is an absolute charmer as he describes his various tricks, techniques, and traps ... but when it finally comes down to the final gore-fest, the suddenly skittish doco crew decides they've had enough -- which doesn't make Leslie all too happy.

Not content to simply slap a bunch of movie references onto the screen (a la the recent and wretched Date Movie and Epic Movie), Glosserman and Co. have concocted a really clever approach to the skewering of slasher flicks. The filmmakers don't "out-clever" themselves by referencing dozens of obscure movies, but the bare basics are covered here quite effectively. Ever wondered how Michael made it down that hallway so quickly? Curious to know how Jason keeps coming back to life? And how do the killers always know exactly where to hide those pop-up corpses?? Behind the Mask answers all those questions, and it does so while being very funny.

Featuring Robert Englund in a humorous take-off of Donald Pleasance, Scott Wilson as a slasher past his prime, Zelda Rubenstein as a creepy librarian who oozes exposition, and the seriously hilarious Nathan Baesel as the energetic mass murderer, Behind the Mask is a cool, confident, and well-crafted treat for anyone who calls himself a horror geek.

Special mention is also due to Angela Goethals as the intrepid documentarian who has no problem hangin' with a crazed killer. Ditto the two goofballs who play her (frequently unseen) crew members. Listen carefully for some of their comments, because they deliver some of the biggest laughs in a pretty funny flick.

The Anchor Bay DVD is predictably stocked with extra goodies: First up is a cast commentary, which is perfectly entertaining, but the gang is missing the contributions of writer/director Scott Glosserman. (I've met the guy a few times, and DAMN he knows his horror.) Next up is a half-hour "making of" piece that's quite excellent, and then there's a brief featurette that covers the casting process. You'll also find a decent batch of extended and deleted scenes, with an intro from Mr. Glosserman. Rounding out the platter are a few trailers. Great film, solid extras ... basically it's a DVD that any self-respecting horror freak will have to buy -- or at least rent!

READ FEARnet's PARTNER REVIEWS OF BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON

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