Freddie Kreuger, Friday the 13th’s Jason and Halloween’s ‘The Shape’ are known and revered by die hard horror fans. They know their background, their kill tally and their strengths and weaknesses, and hold their exploits close to their hearts.
They are also real of course, and in Behind the Mask we meet their successor in Leslie Vernon – at least if he has his way.
Leslie lives in the small town of Glen Echo, where he has been planning his piece de resistance for a long time, the multiple homicide which will no doubt have locals gasping and breathlessly telling reporters ‘he was such a quiet man’ while the ambo’s wheel the trolleys stacked with bodybags in the background.
With fame forthcoming (in Leslie’s mind at least) he is happy to have a documentary crew on hand to track his exploits, and in several interviews with young female reporter Taylor he walks them through his process.
And so we meet the ‘real’ Leslie. He is average height, skinny and unremarkable looking, with a love of both turtles and the mass murder of the innocent.
Taylor and her crew aren’t there for the turtles…
Leslie calmly and jovially goes through his routine; the training required to be a psycho slasher (Cardio!), how he selects his victims, who are the ‘supporting cast’ there to supply the early kills, the weak ‘stragglers to pad his numbers’, even the carefully chosen ‘virgin who survives to tell the tale’.
If none of this is familiar to you, then the ‘Back’ button is up and to your left.
These early scenes will be very amusing to devotees of the slasher genre, as will the scene where Leslie introduces the crew to Eugene, a retired ‘industry legend’ who nonetheless continues training to stay sharp, and the pair swap ‘work stories’ that keep each other greatly amused.
The movie peaks with the introduction of Robert Englund as the Good Samaritan in the know, the man who knows the truth and plans to foil Leslie’s masterpiece. Contrary to what you might think this news delights Leslie, as every mindless psycho needs a nemesis.
However after this sequence the film becomes what it parodies, and like the real deal it gets a little dull and too clever for its own good after a while.
In fact even though it collapses under its own weight by the end, the plot involves far more planning and includes such attention to detail that the filmmakers deserve far more credit than they got – practically no-one has heard of this film.
Which is a shame, because even though it is flawed and over-ambitious, Behind the Mask makes most of the franchise sequels that it pays homage to look lazy, so maybe it is cleverer and more accurate than you think.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a clever 15 minute crowd pleaser made by people that have obviously studied the genre, that will delight slasher film fans the world over. It would be an awesome DVD extra for any of the films it parodies.
Unfortunately I watched the 90 minute film version, which tacks on an hour or so of material not nearly as clever as the initial mock-doco, which ultimately morphs into an intricately plotted, but sub-standard version of the very films it lampoons.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Great ideas and careful execution aren’t always enough.