Friday, May 18, 2007

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

"The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo, all the while deconstructing the conventions and archetypes of the horror genre for them."

I don't know where to begin with this one. I have very mixed feeling towards it but when I think back on it, I really love it. Yet, I know I was hating parts of it while watching it. I guess the good parts cancel out the bad parts over time and leave a nice "yeah, that movie was great" memory for you.

Behind the Mask can only be compared to Man Bites Dog. I feel that anyone who even knows about Man Bites Dog was quick to hate on this film as soon as the premise was known. You would expect that two mockumentaries about a documentary crew following a serial killer would be very similar but luckily Behind the Mask was smart enough to know that people would make comparisons and it is quick to separate itself from Man Bites Dog.

The film takes place in an alternate universe. The best way of thinking of this universe is "the movie universe" in which people like Freddy, Jason, Myers, and Chucky actually exist and everything that we saw happen in those movies actually did happen in this world. After a quick intro scene which explains this world we are treated to this documentary crew as they follow Leslie Vernon. Vernon is the next serial killing bogeyman who is planning his first killing spree. Ok, right here is where the parts that I hated started to happen.

The documentary crew follows Vernon as he begins to plan out things. Everything is always clever and always self conscious. It does however always seem fake. I hated this because given that we are supposed to be watching a documentary everyone, except the actor playing Vernon, come off as actors. Maybe its because of the budget or maybe its because of poor casting decisions but these actors can't even play straight, Everything feels phony and everything just feels way too pre planned. I was ready to hate the rest of the film until around the 50 minute mark.

From this point on this film is fantastic. It makes you believe it is going in one direction and completely flips the plot on you, as well as the perspective, where you are immediately glued to the screen. I have to admitt that I absolutely loved the 2nd half of the film. The cleverness, which starts to get annoying, becomes extremely smart. What I also loved about this 2nd half is that it actually manages to make the 1st half great.

Saying anymore would spoil the movie. All I can say is that this film was never given the chance that it deserved. It really is one of the best horror movies I have seen in a long time and even with all it's flaws it's still a great movie, at least in my opinion. I can see why some people will hate it but I also think that these people should always remember that this is a low budget independent film. In terms of true indies, this one is a great one.

- ***

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