Thursday, September 2, 2010



In a world in which Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger exist, a young man named Leslie Vernon is preparing to become the newest name in serial killers. Following him around as he sets up for the night on which he will strike is journalism grad student Taylor and her two-man film crew, who are fully documenting Leslie's preparation to become a horror legend, from his cardiovascular workouts, to his methodical choosing of his victims, to his complete rigging of the house where the murders will take place. He carefully plants the seeds of the back story and curse that will be associated with his name, and even introduces Taylor and company to his mentor, a serial killer who has since retired. But on the night of the murders as Leslie sets to work, Taylor feels something deep within her - Leslie Vernon must be stopped!

Move over SCREAM, there is a new kid on the self-aware horror block. Building from a base previously set up by the serial killer mockumentary MAN BITES DOG and employing the laundry list of well-known horror cliches and motifs, debut director and writer Scott Glosserman energetically takes on the horror genre with one of the most unique entries to the slasher world in quite some time.

The film starts off with Taylor discussing the world in which the film takes place, bringing realistic credence to the mythical kings of killers of the past thirty years and bringing them all into one universe. During this opening, film footage of the real Elm Street and the streets on which HALLOWEEN took place are briefly seen, plus a very quick cameo by a certain hockey mask wearing actor. It helps get the film right up to running speed, and instills in the back of our mind a collective set of rules that must be followed in this universe. Plus, it is an encouraging wink to the horror fans that this movie is for us.

Behind Leslie Vernon is relative newcomer Nathan Baesel, who makes his film debut here, and is very eager to please the viewers. His happy-go-lucky attitude, with just a hint of underlying sinisterism, is a biting contrast to what one would suspect to find behind the mask of a serial killer. Via Glosserman and co-writer David J. Stieve's script, Baesel is able to go into great detail about the preparation it takes to be a killer, gives concrete evidence to just how killers are able to always be in the right spot at the right time, thus giving a further nod to Ben, the serial killer of MAN BITES DOG. Baesel has great presence and chemistry, and when he dons his mask, outfit, and gets a hold of his scythe, he truly does transform into a variation on every masked killer to grace the silver screen.

The script also lets a little steam off during a conversation Leslie has with mentor, Eugene. In these discussions, as Eugene gives a history lesson to Taylor about the evolution of the serial killer, he is actually talking about the evolution of the slasher genre. He discusses in the late sixties, how killers would just travel from town to town, starting over each time, which is a thinly veiled recollection of a pre-sequel horrors. He then goes on to praise how Myers, Voorhees, and Krueger revolutionized how killers operate, and lambastes what he calls sloppy "one-hit wonders", in what is easily seen as both paying respect to the height of the slasher genre and condemning of those that were merely hopping on the bandwagon.

The final act of BEHIND THE MASK takes an interesting twist which may irk some viewers, but is the only logical way for the film to end. Instead of merely standing by and documenting the carnage, Taylor decides to stop Leslie before he can complete his masterpiece. Their cameras turn off, and suddenly the movie switches gears from mockumentary to an actual horror movie. If you can let yourself get wrapped up in it momentum, Glosserman pulls off the sudden style change surprisingly well, employing a slicker look and pulling out all the horror conventions that one would expect, down to the very... last... shot.


Midnight on Twitter and Facebook