Monday, July 23, 2007

FGFC: "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon"

Ah another month and another Final Girl Film Club review.


What would you get if you put “Halloween” and “This Is Spinal Tap” in a blender and slapped the puree button¹ ? An ungodly mess of chopped up tape and plastic all over the really need to remember to put the lid on those blenders. If instead you just took the ideas behind the two movies and mixed them together then you may end up with something resembling “Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.”

As is fast becoming my tradition with the FGFC selections I went into this one fairly blind. I read no reviews and only barely looked at the synopsis on Blockbuster's site as I added it to my queue....which by the way ended up being wasted effort as I couldn't get it sent, long wait they said! I think this is another tradition in the Film Club...tracking down a copy of the movie. Worry not though, two honest to god B&M Blockbuster visits later I had a copy of the movie in my hands. Let me just say that it was totally worth the effort.

¹ I'm sure that I am totally the first person ever to make that comparison...I'm so clever!

The Basics

Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) is a man who takes pride in his chosen career. So much so that he allows a grad student, Taylor Gentry(Angela Goethals) and her documentary crew to follow him around as he makes the preparations and gets himself ready for his big night. This all seems normal and good until you take into account that Leslie Vernon's “Big Night” is all about him solidifying his status as a legend along the likes of , Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers.

Yep you heard me right, in a world where “Nightmare”, “Friday”, “Halloween”, etc... are real events Leslie wants to solidify his name and legend up on the list. Not only that but he also wants to show the world just how he achieves this massive accomplishment.

What works for me

How awesome is that? The flip side of a horror movie, screw following the victim around all they do is normal everyday thing until the action starts. This time we get to follow the killer around and see as he......does everyday things until the action starts. What?

All joking aside the idea is just fresh enough to work. Not only that but the movie is able to simultaneously pay homage and poke fun at slasher films (sometimes in the same breath) and do it in a respectful way, that makes me happy.

The pacing of the movie was done really well, about two thirds of the movie were spent in the “set-up” stage while the last third was spent playing out the actual execution (pun only semi-intended(unless it was hilarious, then it was totally intended(if it wasn't funny at least this set of multiple parentheses are(right?)))) of the plans.

Leslie himself was actually (for the most part) a likable character, which given the circumstances and his intentions is quite disturbing in itself. He came off as for the most part playful and happy, like anybody might be if they were doing their dream job and making their greatest wishes come true. He of course also had his dark side, his quirks, his eccentricities if you will. But really other than his ultimate goal of manslaughter(teenslaughter) on a grand scale he wasn't so terribly unusual.

Maybe it is just the fact that I recently have been going through a lot of very good classic slashers for the first time (Halloween, Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Part 2, Last House on the Left, among others) but I really had a good time picking out all of the references that were all over the place. Let's not forget that there were some impressive cameos as well! In fact one of my favorite references was combined with an awesome cameo. That would be Zelda Rubinstein appearing as librarian Mrs. Collinwood(Last House on the Left reference of course). By the way if there is anyone out there who doesn't enjoy a good Zelda Rubinstein cameo please let me know who you are so I can make sure that you get a punch in the crunch(I'm not sure where “the crunch” is, but I'm sure it is painful).

Speaking of Cameo's how great was it to see both Freddy and Jason in a movie together again? Even if they didn't share any screen time, and one of them was only fleeting...still, cool!

Lastly and most importantly. Any movie that is in any way, shape, or form made in, around, or about Oregon is automatically 3.141592653% more awesome.

Final Thoughts

Final thoughts? As I said I really dug this movie, I've recommended it to my horror loving friends already. But still every rose has it's ...not so rose-like side to it and as such “Behind the Mask” wasn't perfect.

I would have liked some more time with Doc Halloran, he could have been a more major player with a much better background if they had found the time to squeeze it in. Plus honestly, how great would it be to see Robert Englund take a more active role in fighting off a psychopath?

While I'm complaining about characters..and be careful here cause so far I haven't been very spoilerish, but I might tread on that water here. Early on Taylor confused me a bit, I could never tell if she was morally ambiguous(like many of todays “infotainment” reporters seem to be) or just naive. One minute while interviewing Leslie she seems to be appalled at his murderous plans, the next she is running out to the library parking lot and jumping for joy with him because his plan of killing the librarian not only went ahead as planned but netted him his “Ahab”. Which is it? Are you sickened by the death, or does it thrill you? ...Why was Killing Mrs. Collinwood ok but killing two coital teenagers is crossing a line?

The twist ending was obvious, but pulled off well. When I think about it actually I realize that without the twist the ending would have been really boring. I mean we had already seen hims “plans” in a flash forward sense, so something had to be changed....Still, a little bit more effort to hide what the plans were at least during the beginning would have been fine with me.

In the end the only real complaint I can make. The only thing that truly irked and bothered me to the core of my soul is Leslie's insistence on using the term “Survivor Girl.” While that term may or may not be industry correct I think we all know the truth. The term is “Final Girl” dammit!

No comments: