Poor Excuses and Psycho Killers

My movie watching has been in a decent gear, but the old writing about said movies has not.  As such I have the remnants of 3 different small film reviews clogging up my drafts folder, crying to be let out. I’ve taken pity on these sad scraps and figure they should at least see some light, but  due to my extreme laziness will now be boiled down into even  smaller bits than originally intended.  Sue me.  Here’s the first one.

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Directed by Scott Glosserman

Written by Scott Glosserman , David J. Stieve

While the title killer’s name doesn’t immediately drag up images of teen corpses littering the landscape in the wake of classic slasher killers  like Voorhees and Krueger, that’s exactly the type of mystique and visual carnage that “Behind the Mask” starts off wanting you to believe about their title butcher.  Imagine a world where the iconic slasher stars of horror were real.  Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) , is a humorous and slightly charming monster who tells the audience, he’s on that level.  Vernon has hired a documentary film crew to follow him around and show the world not just the the mindset of a crazed masked killer, but also watch him in action.

The crew follows the charismatic Vernon around as he explains how he picks his target, the perfect “Survivor Girl”, stalks her, scaring her and her friends until the moment to strike is perfect.  Vernon is well versed in slasher and horror film lore and talks frankly with his audience about masked-killer conventions and survival techniques (the run and just keep running bit was very funny).  But soon into Vernon’s night of terror, the crew (and us in the audience) realize there’s a lot more going on in the head of the silly serial-killer as things start spiraling way out of control.

Of course what the movie doesnt cover, is Leslie using his mother as first victim for providing him with such an unfortunate name for a masked killer.

Of course what the movie doesn't cover, is Leslie using his mother as first victim for providing him with such an unfortunate name for a masked killer.

I was on the fence with this movie for at least the first 20-30 minutes, riding a fine line of hate and charm.  The first person interviews with Leslie portray him as a kind of goofy show-off who talks big, but can’t possibly back it up.  As such, I couldn’t tell if the film was a joke or not.  I sat on the couch, wildly swinging from mild entertainment to loathing as Vernon and the documentary host Taylor (Angela Goethals) wink and smile and make broad claims about what he’s capable of and has done in the past.  As a huge fan of the genre I was growing closer and closer to feeling my intelligence and taste insulted.  And then shit gets real, and the moment the camera switches to what’s really going on and we see Vernon in his masked glory the movie takes a wild swing in a direction you probably should have seen coming (well I thought I should have) and suddenly becomes a much-much more entertaining beast.

As slashers go, this one was a fun new take on a genre that more often that not in this age of regurgitation can end up being silly, dumb, or just unoriginal.  The inventive use of throwing in the cheap documentary cameras and footage give  the film it’s own flavor, which is a very good thing considering in all truthfulness “Behind” lacks the gore, originality in kills, and body count to make it stand with the slasher films Leslie so badly wants to be on par with.  While I’m not even remotely going to put it on the same level of  ‘Shaun of the Dead‘, it certainly belongs on the same shelf in the DVD collection, right next to the other horror-comedies, that somehow manage not to shit on the  sub-genres they supposedly love and embrace.


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