Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon – USA, 2006 – overview and reviews

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‘Freddy, Jason, Michael. We all need someone to look up to.’

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a 2006 American mockumentary black comedy horror film directed by Scott Glosserman. It stars Nathan Baesel, Angela Goethals and Robert Englund. It follows a journalist and her film crew that is documenting an aspiring serial killer who models himself according to slasher film conventions.

The film features cameos from Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist franchise) and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th).


A female journalist named Taylor Gentry and her two cameramen, Doug and Todd, document the preparations of Leslie Vernon as he prepares to join the ranks of other slasher villains. Leslie takes his identity from an urban legend about a boy who killed his family and was cast into a river by angry townsfolk.

He initially claims to be the vengeful spirit of the slain boy but soon admits that he is an ordinary man named Leslie Mancuso who must rely on conventional tactics rather than supernatural powers. Taylor and her crew film Leslie’s meticulous preparations to slaughter a number of teenagers in an abandoned house and then be confronted by a virginal “survivor girl”, Kelly. Taylor and her crew come to share Leslie’s enthusiasm for his project, but their consciences catch up with them on the night of the murders…


Reviews [click links to read more]:

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-20-15-31“The movie has more cleverness than violence, and its breakdown of cliches is vivid and witty. Baesel is an extraordinary presence, holding the film together with his mesmerizing performance, charm and openness, and Goethals measures up to him.” Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post

“It’s a brilliant, twisted love letter to the genre that also develops an unexpected stylistic change right when you think you know where things are headed. It’s one of the most creative horror B movies of the 2000’s without a doubt.” Jim Vorel, Paste magazine

” …the movie morphs into exactly the sort of slashing it was previously mocking, is so hopelessly by the numbers that one couldn’t possibly care less about the outcome. There’s little doubt that the idea behind Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is relatively sound (i.e. highlighting the cliches inherent in this genre), but it’s ultimately the underwhelming execution that confirms the movie’s place as an almost total misfire.” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

“Compared to this, Scream is pure child’s play, a wannabe that states the obvious. Behind the Mask is a pure horror film masterpiece, and slasher fans would be best to acknowledge it.” Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed


” …it’s Glosserman’s snarky pandering that’s most damning. Desperately overcompensating for the fact that most horror films are already parodies of themselves, Behind the Mask takes a bite out of the dumb Screamfranchise before devouring its own tail, proving that you are what you eat.” Ed Gonzalez, The Village Voice

“The script’s laughs are too widely spaced. Even before the plot takes a third-act turn into the land of kill-by-the-numbers slasher movies, the jokes drip when they should be gushing.” Kyle Smith, New York Post


Cast and characters:

  • Nathan Baesel as Leslie Vernon/Mancuso
  • Robert Englund as Doc Halloran – The Midnight Man; The Mangler; A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise; et al
  • Angela Goethals as Taylor Gentry
  • Kate Lang Johnson as Kelly
  • Scott Wilson as Eugene
  • Zelda Rubinstein as Mrs. Collinwood – Poltergeist franchise
  • Bridgett Newton as Jamie
  • Ben Pace as Doug
  • Britain Spellings as Todd
  • Hart Turner as Shane
  • Krissy Carlson as Lauren
  • Travis Zariwny as Doctor Meuller
  • Teo Gomez as “Stoned Guy”
  • Matt Bolt as “Slightly More Stoned Guy”
  • Anthony Forsyth as “Pitch-forked Boyfriend”
  • Kane Hodder as “Autopsy Guy”

Filming locations:

Largely in Portland, Oregon and the outlying towns of Troutdale, Banks, St. Helens, Estacada, and Sauvie Island. The establishing shots of Glen Echo were filmed on Main Street in downtown Troutdale.

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