Here is another movie that completely slipped me by and had generated a lot of buzz at the time of its release.
On face value, it could easily slip into the ranks of mediocrity, but there’s a great deal of intelligence brewing beneath this mockumentary slasher.
My prejudice was also combined with a familiarity to a 1992 Crime mockumentary called Man Bites Dog, where a film crew follow the life of a serial killer, recording his every move. Man Bites Dog is also highly regarded by this reviewer as I deem it to be one of the finest Found Footage style films ever.
In the case of Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a similar tale is told, where a film crew, led by Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) and her two cameramen, Doug and Todd, follow Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesai) who claims to be from a local urban legend and encourages them to document his rise to infamy.
There are a couple of elements that lift this fly-on-the-wall black comedy above the ranks of similar movies, chief among these is the tongue-in-cheek knowledge that filmmakers Scott Glossermann and David J. Stieve about their subject matter.
The writer and director team channel all the usual slasher movie tropes and delightfully ridicule them with a nudge and a wink to its audience. To cement this further, the storytellers have cemented their world where known slasher killers, such as Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers and the crimes that they have commited have actually taken place and are treated as historical events.
The stroke of genius comes in casting of Robert Englund as the Dr. Loomis-type character, on the hunt to track and bring down Vernon. Englund hams this up so aptly, including some deadpan down the barrel looks into the lens when he spouts his lines or retribution.
The humour is suitable macabre and on-point bringing to light what we all come to love about this sub-genre, and in doing so, the job of building up the character of Leslie Vernon and he’s mythology is an easy one to portray.
The first half of the movie allows the narrative to build on this exposition and nicely shapes up the characters involved, before flipping the lid on the voyeurs and subjecting them to the game that Vernon is playing.
At this point, the pleasure comes in letting the scenario play out to its more than satisfying conclusion accompanied by a heartening round of applause from this reviewer.
I can clearly see why it was so well received within the horror community and would happily watch it all over again.
The question arises though with talks of a potential sequel on the horizon, with strong talks from the creative team about resurrecting Leslie Vernon again, whether this a lightning in a bottle moment or if they can recreate the magic once again.
Time will tell. Hopefully BFTM will come about soon and delight us again.
Come on Glosserman… Please make it happen.
Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is currently screening on Shudder Australia.
- Saul Muerte