A small-town serial killer with a curious penchant for self-promotion unleashes a blood-soaked frenzy of terror in his violent effort to become the best-known slasher in horror history. On the surface, Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) is just your average, everyday guy whose lofty dreams for the future drive him to excel at his chosen profession. But Leslie’s chosen career path is a far cry from that of your typical middle-class wage earner; his ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, notorious serial killer Eugene (Scott Wilson). He’s not shy about his malevolent ambitions either. In fact, in order to better document his impending murder spree, Leslie has offered budding filmmaker Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) and her dedicated crew unprecedented access to his life as he sets into motion a plan designed make to make the formidable feats of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers look like a mere warm-up for the homicidal hysteria that’s about to unfold. Along the way, Leslie will even be so cordial as to teach Taylor and her crew the tricks of the trade while candidly deconstructing the many myths and archetypes of his murderous occupation. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is set up as a documentary of the budding career of a serial killer (or more appropriately, a “Slasher”) who has allowed a camera crew to follow him as he sets the stage for his masterpiece of a killing spree that will involve everything from a “Survivor Chick” to an “Ahab”. He dives into the explanations of what these mean and why he is doing all of this with a resolve and honesty that is almost disturbing in its intensity.
*Warning – There will be some spoilers from here on out*
The first 3 quarters of the movie are set up as an actually documentary (mocumentary) that is almost entirely based off of interviews with Leslie and another retired killer played by Scott Wilson. The camera crew follow Leslie as he plans the execution of his master plan, choosing his victims, and preparing the final encounter area to eliminate escape routes, flashlights, or even weapons. It is pretty fascinating the way he explains the process and how easy it is to apply it to Michael Myers from the Halloween series or Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th.
The last quarter of the movie takes a slightly different turn as the interviewer and the crew decide that the can’t just stand by and watch these teens be gruesomly murdered. They attempt to save the teens, but their attempt backfires as they realize that this is what Leslie has been planning the entire time. From the standard slasher movie victims in the 80’s and 90’s, a virgin has to be included to represent purity and good, and all of the sex crazed teens and a stoners have to die hideous deaths. The camera crew and interview fill in some of the roles that are required as per this serial killer’s perfect plan.
To be honest, the first three times I tried to watch this movie, I fell asleep. During the documentary portion, there are parts that just drag on, and the movie failed to capture my attention. Specifically, the scenes where the crew were sitting down and interviewing Leslie just bored me.
The fourth time I stayed awake through the entire film, and I was pleasantly surprised by how everything was brought to a conclusion by the end. Once I was able to look back at the entire movie, I was definitely able to appreciate it for what it was. A self aware and entertaining slasher flick that actively pokes fun at itself and others movies within the genre.
I did have one complaint with the plot. The camera crew knew all of the details of Leslie’s planned killing spree, yet they really didn’t do anything to move outside of his predetermined boundaries. While it did seem that he had covered all of the bases, it might have made the plot feel more cohesive if they would have attempted to bend his rules.
I would recommend this film for horror fans and even comedy fans. The gore and blood are kept to a relatively minor key and the step-by-step planning of a slasher planning his next killing spree is very amusing. It’s worth the watch. I would recommend it just to see the horror veterans who pop up: Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, and Zelda Rubinstein. I would rate this a 3 out of a total score of 5 points.
See the trailer here: