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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

  I’ve always found those movies that you just so happen to come across can end up as some of the best gems in your collection. Which happened to be the case when discovering this film after the main Actor was announced for a convention I attend yearly. Texas Frightmare brought an appearance by Leslie Vernon himself, Nathan Baesel, and later announced the Director and two other stars of the film. Their goal: to raise money for their next installment which was otherwise ready to go. I immediately ordered it after watching the trailer and after viewing, saw 3 consecutive times after. That’s no lie. The performance done by Baesel was entirely too terrific to not be appreciated as many times as able. Because in my cinema mind, I was already behind in viewing something that had been released six years earlier. It as well had a surrounding cast and cameos that make it worth finding and adding to your collection.

  Essentially the movie is a spoof on a satire that takes place in a world where serial killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees actually exist. It’s also where other killers aspire to be in the “high ranks,” such as the above mentioned. A group of grad students filming the “making of” one such man as he takes them on a journey of explaining a behind the scenes look at his work in progress. *Man Bites Dog may ring a bell; a french film definitely a bit more unapologetic with its presentation of kills.* It’s shot as a documentary for the majority of the film and turns into an actual movie near the end with few moments in between of such as well. Taylor (Angela Goethals) is the one interacting with Leslie and interviewing him throughout their process. Doug (Ben Pace) and Todd (Britain Spellings) are the cameramen that we rarely see until the switch over, however are guilty of plenty quips that are sure to tickle your funny bone. Nathan Baesel stealing the spotlight and certainly affixes your attention. One can’t help but notice at his humor, which was heart-felt and pain in your side funny from the sincerity he kept throughout; a perfect choice for the lead role.

  Describing in great detail of how he planned to maneuver as the masked killer in hopes of finding the survivor girl who would help take him to the next level. The last part of the movie executes what he had already set-up for the audience. It was really nice to see a film poking fun at all the obvious things that you grow to love most about the genre; How do the killers always keep up when chasing their victims? How do they always seem to know which way you’re going to go and what will happen next. Well, its their job of course! A creative and well written script that was slow at times though overall a rather inventive way of showing another facet to the murderous types we secretly love to root for.

  Taylor was able to help create a genuine connection with Leslie’s character while also having to cope with the fact that this wasn’t just any regular ol’ documentary they were filming. Her professionalism towards her documentary mixed and appeal to Leslie’s character worked well against his realism and dedication to his “art.” Robert Englund played Doc Halloran, the man who will stop at nothing…to stop Leslie. Englund has perfected that eerie badassness (yeah I said it) and it has worked so well all through his career. I do enjoy those added touches as such; makes it that much more fun to watch in a nerdy sort of way. **Look for the “1,2 Freddy’s coming for you” girls jumping rope on the side of the high school as Leslie follows the one girl leaving** That fact that Taylor becomes the Survivor girl at the end was a nice surprise and she ended up being a good choice, but certainly no Sidney Prescott.

  The one downfall of the film comes with select members of the group Leslie pursues, which were a bit painful to watch at times. The original survivor girl was way too dramatic and made it look like she was trying too hard every time a line was delivered. Which I will attribute to the basic stereotype of “moronic” cast typically portrayed in horror movies and hope, that was simply the case. Leslie’s mentor Eugene (Scott Wilson) was a surprising extension to the story that fueled the appeal further with surprise cameo by Zelda Rubinstein in which Horror fans will surly appreciate. Behind the mask is definitely a great choice whether you love horror films or whether you love to make fun of those horror films. Either way, enjoyment is to be had in viewing and I hope to see the prequel within the next couple of years.