Top 20 Horror Films of the 2000s Presents: Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007)

12. Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2007, Scott Glosserman)

Imagine that Freddy, Michael, and Jason-even Leatherface-are real and not fictional characters. In this world a person like Leslie Vernon would be inspired to follow in their legacy and not be inspired by people who really exist in real life-Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac Killer, Charles Manson, The Night Stalker, etc. Leslie is a charming young man, highly charismatic and willing to let a video crew led by a young wannabe journalist videotape his ultimate goal: to become a famous serial killer, a masked menace terrorizing people and becoming a legend in the process. Whether or not he succeeds isn’t the point here, its how naive the video crew is-they actually don’t think that Leslie is serious until things spiral out of control and the danger becomes very real. Considering that Leslie gave them numerous clues you would imagine the video crew picking up on what was really going on, however in this day and age its hard to tell if people are being serious or not.

What’s even more awesome about this film is that its a mostly smart, well made slasher movie that even features slasher genre deconstruction: Leslie even mentions his “Ahab,” a man who tries to stop him, played by horror legend Robert Englund in a nice meta inspired joke performance. Scott Wilson, who actually played a killer in the classic In Cold Blood is here as Leslie’s mentor, an older man who claims to have survived numerous deaths. Even though the “Found Footage” style camerawork oddly goes to a halt once Leslie dons his makeup, mask, and grabs his weapons of carnage, this is a pretty good use of the gimmick. Stick around for the credits by the way, and give this movie a chance-its got a dark sense of humor also that it used all too well. “I choose to be the opposite of all that is good and pure and holy in this world. You choose journalism.”-Leslie Vernon

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