2006, Movies

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


This film begins as the horror movie equivalent to the classic 1992 Belgian black comedy Man Bites Dog. It’s literally the same concept: a documentary team follows a serial killer around. However, the additional conceit here is that the audience sees what the horror movie would look like, were one being made. Does that sound a little confused to you? Because it is. And that latter part is soon dropped, as the film becomes more of a conventional horror (comedy?) movie when Leslie Vernon and the documentary team have their falling out.

There are a number of really bothersome problems with the film:

  • The writers didn’t know what they wanted to do. This film is supposed to exist in the same universe of Freddy, Jason, and Michael. However, like any good horror fanboys, these guys have cast their idols in the film: Zelda Rubinstein from the Poltergeist franchise is here. That’s not a big deal. It’s a nice homage, I guess. But the problem is that Robert Englund – Robert Fucking Englund aka Freddy Krueger – is here, not as Freddy Krueger but essentially as the Donald Pleasance character from the Halloween series. Now, this film wants me to think it exists in the same universe as Freddy Krueger but the sole actor who has ever played Krueger is in the film as another character! What the fuck!?!
  • The movie isn’t scary. The mask Leslie Vernon wears is ridiculous. I understand that this is meant for comedy purposes (see below) but once the horror starts, he’s just kind of annoying. The timing of the kills never, ever brings even a jump. I didn’t jump once.  That’s not good.
  • The movie isn’t funny. The script is rather awful and the direction doesn’t help. The jokes land flat almost every time. And it’s more a matter of noting “oh, I see, they’re trying to be clever in this scene by mocking a horror convention” rather than actually being amused or impressed by their cleverness (really attempted cleverness). The film relies way too much on the whole Scream thing of people discussing horror cliches, rather than the film itself taking them apart (though that happens too).

All this being said, it’s not awful. (I know, it sounds like I think it’s awful.) It’s just low budget and ill-conceived. It’s an idea in search of better filmmakers (and a better cast).


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