You Have to See This! Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

“She’s empowering herself… with cock.” – Leslie Vernon

Scott Glosserman’s horror masterpiece is a beautiful examination of the slasher sub-genre and its once simplistic genre elements takes a story, and provides a whole new twist to the axe wielding maniac. In the process, it presents us with dark humor that’s actually funny, great performances, and debuts from actors you’ll want to see more often after this. The humor in “Behind the Mask” is never smug of self-aware, and the movie never once breaks the fourth wall by making audiences aware that yes, they are watching a slasher film. Director Scott Glosserman breaks down the elements of the sub-genre forcing audiences to take a second look at the whole concept of the slasher film and the axe wielding maniac.

Director Glosserman’s “Behind the Mask” takes place in a world where Jason, Freddy, and Michael Myers exist. In “Behind the Mask,” slashers are just as common as serial killers. Leslie Vernon is a man who is just insanely in love with himself but also garners a deceptive genius behind every move he makes in the film. He considers himself the heir apparent to the aforementioned psychos, and hardly ever seems to waver under immense pressure when staging a kill. It also helps that he’s just an all around likable guy.

As the film unfolds though, Leslie begins to show his teeth, and the audience, as well as the reporters following him, begins to feel very uneasy and afraid to touch on certain subjects. Leslie is a dog bound to bite at any time, and his teeth are sharp and on display for the cameras. Even through his hilarious one-liners and tongue in cheek humor, he always seems like a bomb with a short fuse. Even with walk on roles from Zelda Rubenstein and Robert Englund (who is memorable as Leslie’s very own “Loomis”) “Behind the Mask” thankfully never collapses under the weight of fan service.

Glosserman works overtime to build a convincing universe for Leslie Vernon, even including a side plot where Leslie bonds with his very own slasher mentor. Scott Wilson plays Leslie’s mentor Eugene, a retired slasher and serial killer who, like Leslie seems nice enough. His biting wit and intimidating presence marks a great guest spot from Wilson who almost steals scenes away from star Nathan Baesel. Hell, the fact that Leslie’s mentor refers to other slashers in a first name bases like a friend calling them Jay, Fred, and Mike, Glosserman scripts it to where it’s shockingly clever.

“Behind the Mask” displays much more wit, and brains than many other indie slasher films. Nathan Baesel adds dimensions to Leslie Vernon a script can only do so much of. Baesel is likable, he’s charming, and yet he never lets the audience forget that he’s also an extremely dangerous maniac who has their life in his hands. It’s not many horror movies that make the masked maniac the main character, but Scott Glosserman delivers a slick and clever horror comedy that gets better with repeated viewings.

I hope someday we can see some sequels with Leslie Vernon continuing his quest for greatness.