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Movie Review- Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)- A Cut Above the Rest

Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Leatherface- they are the modern day boogeyman, whose names have been cemented in popular culture as sentinels of fear. But some legends’ beginnings are more humble than others. This film, though seldom known outside select circles, is the smartest skewering of the horror film genre since Wes Craven’s Scream (1996).

This film transforms the exhausted genre of the found footage movie by presenting itself as a mockumentary, detailing an amateur documentary crew (Krissy Carlson, Ben Pace and Britain Spellings) and their subject- affable aspiring slasher Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel). His easygoing attitude is comically juxtaposed to the brutality of his actions as he targets a group of archetypal teens in typical horror movie fashion, offering commentary on their mentalities. The film acknowledges its roots through tongue-in-cheek references to classic horror films such as Friday the 13th and Halloween. Like Creep (2014)’s Mark Duplass, Baesel straddles a perfect balance between comedic and unsettling. The side characters are equally as entertaining, such as Leslie’s Dr. Loomis- esque nemesis, Doc Holloran (played by horror movie alumni Robert Englund) The late Scott Wilson makes a brief but unforgettable appearance as Eugene, an elderly retired serial killer and Leslie’s mentor.

Though the sudden medium shift into conventional horror film towards the end does drain it of its originality, the film never loses its edge, as sharp as Leslie’s trademark weapon, cutting down tired cliches to carve out a truly unique film, one that should be seen by every fan of the genre.

7/10

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