Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is an excellent example of horror deconstruction in the 21st century, up there with other recent cinematic examples like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, and literary examples like Joe Hill’s “Best New Horror” (DAY 8!). When I find myself talking about the film with others, inevitably the Scream trilogy is mentioned by others for comparison. And while it’s easy to lump Wes Craven’s franchise with Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, I’d argue that the former spent more of its energy desperately trying to convince a new generation that horror is, like, cool, whereas the latter simply reminds the rest of us why we loved horror in the first place.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon tells the story of a documentary crew as they follow the mysterious and charismatic Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel), a man who is skillfully preparing to follow in the footsteps of Freddie Kreuger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers (all real killers in this particular universe). Vernon, it turns out, is especially charming and funny; and more importantly, he’s accommodating and upfront about his plans, explaining away the details of his impending killing spree with ease. In fact, Vernon candidly answers a lot of the questions that have perplexed horror fans for decades. Why does the killer set up the corpses to be discovered later? Why does the weapon the victim inevitably takes from the shed break so easily? How is it that no matter how slow the killer walks, he can keep up with his frantically running victims?
This has been