« All That Jazz: Special Music Edition (DVD) | Main | OVERLORD »

Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Slasher Deconstruction
By Cole Smithey

Leslie_vernon_2 "Behind The Mask" is a bloated student horror film with an experimental deconstructionist gimmick that could have worked better if not for the egregious miscasting of Angela Goethals as Taylor, the on-camera interviewer for a documentary film crew going along for the ride with a local would-be serial killer. Filmed around Portland, Oregon, the action revolves around returning local native Leslie Vernon, who worships at the alter of horror film icons like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers. Leslie is happy to take the film crew on a guided tour of every aspect of his philosophies behind an upcoming planned attack on a bunch of high school teens who will attempt to spend the night in a secluded cabin they believe is haunted.

Actor Robert Englund ("A Nightmare on Elm Street") lends an air of validation to the project as a Donald Pleasence-inspired psychiatrist hot on Leslie’s trail. The deconstruction ploy comes to full fruition when Leslie shows exactly how he has rigged every inch of the cabin and adjacent barn to give him the upper hand when the killing time comes. The idea of familiarizing the audience with its masked killer worked well in Alfred Hitchcock’s "Psycho," but it squeaks like a rusty wheel in the amateurish hands here.

The Special Features include an overlapping chatty audio commentary with actors Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals, Britain Spellings and Ben Pace vying for attention. The headache-inducing prattle, about every bit of minutiae behind the set-ups for each shot and personal conflicts, becomes atrociously tiring before the inciting incident. A money line comes when one of the actors announces, "I stole that vest, and that shirt, and that hat." It’s easy to tell why Alfred Hitchcock referred to actors as "cattle."

For the obligatory making-of featurette "The Making of "Behind The Mask" co-writer and director Scott Glosserman gives direct-to-camera details of production that not even your closest film student relative will find interesting.

As if to emphasize the lumpy casting of B, C and D list actors, "The Casting of Behind The Mask" shows repeated clips of line readings with Nathan Baesel upstaging every auditioning girl that dares to set foot in the room. Shown on a smaller picture-in-picture frame, the goofy five-minute featurette at least serves as a brief lesson in what not to do in an audition.

Four deleted scenes, with optional director’s commentary, demonstrate the filmmakers’ overreaching attempts at social commentary and inability to grasp even fundamental elements of suspense.

Six extended scenes, with optional director’s commentary, point out redundancies in the script and lacking forward movement that Scott Glosserman knowingly defends because he "loves" them so much. As the director elaborates on the admittedly "silly" background tributes he attempted to pay to horror classics such as "The Shining" it becomes obvious just where his priorities were misplaced.

Aspect ratio is 1.85:1, with sound processed in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Surround. (Movie: C- / DVD features: C) (Anchor Bay)

June 12, 2007 in Horror | Permalink