Tonight’s film is one of those little gems that seems to have slipped past the radar of the average person, only to be seen by those true horror fans who live to seek out such things. It is possible that you have seen it on your Netflix page and continued right past it as the name deceives you into thinking the movie might be bad, but I am here to tell you that it’s not.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is actually a pretty brilliant film, mixing both horror and comedy. Living in a reality where horror movie slashers (i.e. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees) are real, a documentary crew, led by journalist Taylor (Angela Goethals), follow a local legend named Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) around to see how he goes about being a slasher, himself.
Leslie Vernon is an aspiring killer who trains and prepares for his rise to slasher stardom. He has stolen his identity from a child who murdered his parents and then was killed by the townsfolk in the river. While his identity is supernatural, Leslie is really just an average human who has to use his knowledge and instincts to pull off a night as legendary as his fellow killers. He is so handsome and charming that everyone seems to forget that he is planning to murder people. The crew becomes his friends, helping him out in situations, even contributing to his plans now and then. There even seems to be a bit of a connection between Leslie and Taylor.
Taylor and her crew follow Leslie as he stalks his “survivor girl” Kelly and evades the hero Doc Halloran (Robert Englund). They learn how the killer sets up the scene so he knows exactly where the victim is going to escape from and run to. He knows who will end up where in what order so that he can set up how each will die.
After the “survivor girl” and her friends reach the location, Taylor and the crew realize they cannot just sit back and watch these kids get murdered. Little do they know, their move was predicted and they are now part of the story.
Nathan Baesel is perfect as Leslie Vernon. He is so convincing as a nice guy but is great at flipping the switch to psycho killer. I can’t help but wonder why we haven’t seen more from him. He also looks a disturbing lot like a roommate I had in college who I always sort of expected to become a serial killer.
There are appearances by horror greats such as Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Zelda Rubenstein (Poltergeist) and Scott Wilson (The Walking Dead). You might recognize Angela Goethals from Home Alone as Kevin’s older sister Linnie, the “Les incompetents” girl. If you look closely at the Elm Street house when they show it, you’ll recognize Jason Voorhees himself, Kane Hodder as the house’s owner.
Honestly guys, this is a film that answers all of your questions about slasher films: How they pick the girl, how they always catch up, how they always know where the victim is going to be. You will find yourself more entertained that you expected and will regret having skipped past it for so long. This holiday season, add it to your queue and give it a shot.