Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

behind the mask the rise of leslie vernon poster 2006 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Clever and different take on the horror genre

Some so-so acting and a loses some direction in the third act

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Behind the Mask:  The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Studio:  GlenEcho Entertainment

Genre(s):  Horror/Comedy

Release Date(s):  August 26, 2006 (London FrightFest)/January 5, 2007 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

behind the mask the rise of leslie vernon taylor angela goethals nathan baesel

You just can’t go serial killing without some planning!

Killing horny teenagers is harder than you think…ask Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel).  He’s the next big thing in serial killers like Jason, Freddy, or Michael, and he’s given all access to a student filmmaker named Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) and her crew to watch him plot his first mass killing.  Targeting a virgin “survivor girl” named Kelly (Kate Lang Johnson), Leslie plots his slasher spree with the help of a retired slasher Eugene (Scott Wilson) and his former victim-turned-wife Jamie (Bridgett Newton).  When Leslie’s “Ahab” Doc Halloran (Robert Englund) shows up, Taylor learns more about the man claiming to be the victim of a town lynch mob, and when things become too real for Taylor, she must act.

Directed by Scott Glosseman, Behind the Mask:  The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a post-modern approach to horror along the lines of Scream combined with a found footage film.  The movie was relatively well received and has slowly built a cult following.

behind the mask the rise of leslie vernon nathan baesel zelda rubinstein

This library is clean…

Behind the Mask:  The Rise of Leslie Vernon is original.  The movie is relatively short as a horror movie should be and doesn’t try to drag out the movie.  The original idea for a plot does make this film a bit of a different experience and countless references to other horror films help make the movie fun for horror fans.

With an original concept comes some problems.  The movie works when it is first person, but it occasionally switches to true film (the whole last act loses the hand-held look for a standard film).  Part of this is a necessity, but other parts like the scene in the library with Zelda Rubinstein (in one of her last roles) and Robert Englund’s first appearance just feel weird and out of place.  I almost wish that the scenes had been set up as “recreations” or something to keep with the filmmaking theme, but instead a “normal” film appears.

It also leads to a plot problem.  Taylor and her crew have to “break” Leslie’s plans in the final act, but they do everything Leslie plans.  They go to the barn (when they could have gone somewhere…or literally anywhere else), they grab weapons they know are rigged to break, and they do not warn any of Leslie’s planned victims of what to avoid.  This leads to the classic “let’s not make sure he’s dead when he’s down” moments that get a bit frustrating.

behind the mask the rise of leslie vernon ahab doc halloran robert englund nathan baesel

He’s got his Ahab!

The other slight problem with this film is some weak acting.  Nathan Baesel is ok as Vernon…at times (when he is actually being creepy, he works…but other times he almost turns into Jim Carrey).  Angela Goethals also isn’t the strongest actress.  Once again, when she is doing the non-camera stuff, she’s ok.  I realize on both parties that their on-camera persona is supposed to be amplified, but it is too much.  I enjoyed Scott Wilson and Bridgett Newton as the horror couple, and it is always nice/weird to see Robert Englund show up in a horror in a non-Freddy role (especially since Freddy Krueger exists in this world).

I do recommend seeing Behind the Mask:  The Rise of Leslie Vernon.  It is a fun, different self-reflexive horror movie.  The movie is original enough that even if you don’t like it, it at least provides a talking point for fans of the genre.  There was talk of a prequel with much of the cast returning (B4TM or Before the Mask:  The Return of Leslie Vernon), but even the director has admitted that the movie is most likely dead in the water.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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