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Review: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon Is A Perfect Standalone Contribution

The Rise of Leslie Vernon

If you enjoy intelligent, deconstructive slashers like Scream and New Nightmare this movie should be on your Halloween to-watch list. Set in a world where horror figures like Freddy and Michael exist but are just ordinary mortal men using trickery to appear supernatural, it follows an amateur film crew as they document up and coming wannabe murderer Leslie.

He takes them through the careful planning stages needed to execute the perfect massacre of a group of teens. This includes selecting and stalking a “final girl” and setting up the scene of the crime so that all exits are rigged and all potential defensive weapons are mere props to make Leslie appear immortal.

He talks about the intense cardio needed to make it look like he’s walking “while everybody else is running their asses off.” It’s an ingenious lampoon of the subgenre but it’s also done with genuine affection and respect. Most of the laughs come from how Leslie explains away all of the many clichés we’ve seen before.

The Walking Dead’s Scott Wilson is great as Leslie’s friend and mentor, a retired killer who finally married his final girl. As we learn more about Leslie’s motivations for his new “career” and the film crew grow to like him he becomes quite a sad, deep and hilariously warped figure.

Robert Englund shows up as a Sam Loomis figure, determined to hunt Leslie down. Unlike similar cameos he actually gets a good chunk of screen time and brilliantly channels Donald Pleasence.

Robert Englund The Rise of Leslie Vernon

This film is already 10 years old and although it’s a much loved classic among small cult circles it really deserves more recognition. It’s also a pity it never got a sequel. One character talks about “one hit wonders” cheapening horror. But this film says all it really needs to say and is a perfect standalone contribution to the genre. It also makes a good back to back partner with Scream.