Posted: 03/21/2007


Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon


by Rick Villalobos

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Let us delve into the psyche of a serial killer, Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a zealous villain from the small town of Glen Echo, Maryland. Angela Goethals plays Taylor Gentry, a tenacious filmmaker who chronicles Leslie Vernon’s rise to slasher stardom.

Since the 1980s, horror films have beset the promiscuous teenage rabble rouser with a collection of endless clichés. This film does the same, embodying mainstream roles like the virgin female protagonist and the astute psychiatrist whose only role is to stop the killer. Although Behind the Mask is a conventional horror film, it is straightforward with its intent to both ridicule and glorify the horror genre. It succeeds on both counts.

Director Scott Glosserman introduces a madman who is comedic, ethical and relentless. It is this combination of unruly traits that will make any antagonist tremble with jealousy. Behind the Mask offers more than just a laugh and a fleeting scare. The film’s sinister design is a monstrous surprise, allowing us to observe rather than passively watch a killer’s next move.

Actor Nathan Baesel’s contribution is notable. Leslie Vernon will be remembered among the villains of the ’80s: Krueger, Voorhees, and Myers.

Shot as a documentary, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon confronts the questionable reality of a man whose origin is not supernatural. The person behind the mask is human, a likable man who could be your next-door neighbor.

Rick Villalobos is a film reviewer living in Chicago.

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