In parodying the slasher movie, director Scott Glosserman and writer David J. Stieve immediately face a problem – slasher movies have long since become parodies in and of themselves and guys like Kevin Williamson have long since pointed this out in smarmy know-it-all movies such as “Scream,” followed then by the “Scary Movie” series. It’s kinda all been said and done, hasn’t it? Fortunately, the filmmakers have quite a few clever tricks up their sleeves, bringing us a smart, refreshing an affectionate skewering of a celebrated genre.
“Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon” is a mockumentary on the life of up and coming serial maniac Leslie Vernon. This film exists in a world where characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers are real. It’s Leslie’s mission to be ranked amongst them and he invites a documentary film crew to join him on a killing spree, all the while revealing the tricks of the trade in this bloody business. Comparisons to “Scream” have been mentioned quite a bit, but I think that’s a little off. This is a smarter, vastly more entertaining movie. Actually, if a comparison had to be made, I’d say it’s quite a bit like “Man Bites Dog,” just not as bleak and a lot funnier.
But, horror fans need not despair, it’s not all just about the funny here. “Behind the Mask” does a neat little trick that amps up the excitement. The bulk of the film is shot run and gun documentary style, but, during a scene where Leslie is stalking his prey, we’re suddenly dropped into full horror movie mode as the two channel audio turns into a full 5.1 sound mix, complete with creepy effects and dread inducing music. The quality of the picture also improves and you’re immediately locked into an effectively scary slasher movie scene. So there are plenty of scares and gross outs to be found here, too. And another treat for horror nuts, the appearances of horror legends Robert Englund and Zelda Rubinstein. Rubinstein plays a librarian with plenty of doom and gloom to spout and Englund stars as a nod to Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis from the “Halloween” movies. Don’t slip in the nerd drool!
Seriously, you’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll barf in your lap – sounds like a good time, right? It is!