Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) - Review

The whole mockumentary thing is starting to get a little old with the recent influx of found footage horror movies flooding the market.  Behind the Mask, however, is an example of a remarkably fresh take on the genre, mixing documentary-style footage with an actual narrative.  The story follows a camera crew as they interview an up-and-coming serial killer who is planning a mass murder so he'll go down in history with the likes of Jason, Freddy, and Michael.  And yes, in this universe, those people are all real killers.

The whole thing is basically a deconstruction of cliche slasher movies, but the final act of the film ditches the documentary style and plays out those cliches like the slasher it's satirizing.  It works surprisingly well considering the jarring tonal shift.  It's effective much in the same way the Scream series is; it aptly parodies a lot of the horror cliches, and then turns around and plays them straight in the final act.  I'm a sucker for genre-savvy films; it shows that a movie really knows what it's doing.

But the reason the film works as well as it does is the casting.  Most of the cast is comprised of unknowns including the fantastic Nathan Baesel as the title character.  He's an evil yet charming lead, and it's almost hard not to root for him, at least for the first two-thirds of the movie.  Imagine a very restrained Jim Carrey.  The rest of the leads are good too, and even the great Robert Englund (of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) gets a fairly prominent role in the film.

This is a really solid deconstruction/satire of slasher movies, and I definitely recommend it to anybody who likes cheesy slashers or the Scream series.  Honestly, even if you don't like horror movies, I'd still say give it a watch if you're curious, because it's really pretty tame as far as the blood and gore goes.  It's a lot more entertaining than most of the movies that play all of these tropes straight, that's for sure.

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