This movie should have really been a bigger hit than it was. I am a huge slasher fan if you've ever checked out my many reviews on the subject and commentary but it's a genre that doesn't get much critical love. If you actually want to talk about good slasher movies versus fun ones, there's only about a handful of them: Halloween, Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Until Dawn (which was a video game), and this movie right here.
|Leslie in costume.|
Behind the Mask is a beautiful homage to the slasher genre in a way that arguably elevates the entire thing. It is a dramatic comedy, deconstruction, parody, and reconstruction all in one. The first two-thirds of the movie are a delightful send-up of documentaries as well as slasher movies as a whole while the remaining third is an entirely serviceable example of them. The first two-third are sort of a combination of slasher movie and sports drama where we get the perspective of a man who wants to be a slasher movie villain and has spent his whole life prepping for it.
|Robert Englund's third best role after Freddy and Willy from V.|
Leslie is the perfect deconstruction of your typical slasher in that not only is he not a menacing silent killer but he's incredibly talkative and not the least bit physically imposing. He's disarmingly charming and it's easy to understand why Taylor and her crew go along with his preparations for a killing spree. It's impossible to believe Leslie is serious about murdering people and that he'd be vicious enough to do so until he (spoilers) proves otherwise.
|The slasher fodder.|
Taylor Gentry follows Leslie Vernon around and serves as our POV into the twisted mind of a guy who spends months, even years, to set up his killing spree. This includes setting up parties in the middle of isolated locations, providing a selection of victims, rigging the places with various traps, selecting weapons, and stalking the "Survivor Girl" that he will have heroically defeat him.
|Leslie looks like everyone else.|
My favorite part of the movie is when Leslie visits the home of his mentor Eugene (Scott Wilson), who is implied to be Billy from Black Christmas. He's apparently retired from murder and taken up residence with one of his Survivor Girls. I loved Scott Wilson in The Walking Dead and he does an excellent job here. There's a wonderful re-watch bonus to this film after you finish it the first time as all of Eugene's scenes gain a sinister quality they didn't initially possess.
|Black Christmas, I gave you a heart (I ripped out).|
This movie came out in 2006 and this is one of the films I recommend picking up in Bluray. The movie commentaries are great for this film and give a lot of insight into the production, writing, in-jokes, and other stories. I think this is one of those films that stands up to deep analysis and is born from a tremendous love of the genre. Still, if you just want an enjoyable experience watching a slasher film with a brain then this is it. The more you know about horror movies, the more you'll enjoy this film.