Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Movie Review: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
I don't know why I don't listen to my fellow horror lovers more when it comes to movies like this. I've been seeing Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon mentioned for years but never thought it was one I should rush out to see. Dang it, I hate being proven wrong. Behind the Mask was pretty sweet, and the first movie I've seen in a long time that had me incredibly impressed with its writing, both for its cleverness and its ability to get me to really laugh out loud.
Behind the Mask is in part shot in the found footage style but it's not really a found footage movie at all - it's mostly described as a mockumentary, which works for me. The use of the camcorder footage from the news crew is more like the method or reason for why the audience is getting a look at the behind-the-scenes of serial killer-making. And actually, that part of the plot helps remind you of the comedic purpose of the whole film, because it is absolutely ridiculous that a news crew would be following around a serial killer in the first place.
This method gives us a very creative approach to the typical killer legend, wherein we get to see the monster create every minute of his night of carnage. Leslie shows Taylor and crew how he prepares his physical self for picks his victim gang, how he chooses the one to be his survivor girl, and how he turns the girl onto his legendary story so she will be knowledgeable about him and help empower her. Then we get some hilarious stuff as Leslie sabotages the abandoned house where the bloodbath will take place - putting dead batteries in the flashlights, pre-cutting the woodshed tools and tree branches, rigging up a device that will allow him to cut the power, etc. He also walks Taylor through exactly how the events will take place that night - all those horror movie tropes of finding dead bodies and changing locations while still having the killer know exactly where you are and where you're going. Because he's planned it all out, geddit?
Along the way in the story, we also meet Leslie's friend Eugene, someone in the same business as Leslie but who has since "retired." Eugene is played by Scott Wilson and just like Baesel, he is able to bring just the right amount of hilarity and menace to his character (menace which is also in turn hilarious) while being completely charming and lovable. Angela Goethals is Taylor, the protagonist who doesn't really do a good job of showing Leslie and everyone else just how uncomfortable she is with the whole situation, even though she eventually goes along with it every step of the way. Horror fans will also be happy to see appearances by Zelda Rubinstein as the librarian and Robert Englund as Doc Hallorann, Leslie's Ahab, a character modeled after Dr. Loomis from Halloween.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (ha, it even has a documentary-like title) is a delightfully fun and creative look into how a horror movie legend is created. It's on the low budget side but doesn't show it that much - the casting and acting are what really sell the story and draw you in from the very beginning. Can't wait for the sequel or prequel!