Film: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Lace up your boots, kiddies. It's going to get wet.Deconstructive Parody
, Lampshade Hanging
and metahumor are the name of the game in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
, in which charming psycho killer Vernon brings a film crew along to document the series of murders that will cement his name in the slasher hall of fame along with Jason Voorhees
, Freddy Krueger
and Michael Myers
Interviewed by a student journalist named Taylor Gentry, Leslie details the extensive preparations that slashers go through in order to make a killing spree possible, especially setting up his survivor girl
: a blonde virgin
named Kelly. When it comes time for the actual murders, though, the documentary crew finally realizes what they've gotten themselves into and opt out at the last minute.
Though a Kickstarter campaign was unsuccessful, funding is still being sought for a sequel
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abandoned Area - According to Leslie, the first step in being a slasher is to have "an anchor for your legend." In this case, the Vernon legend revolves around an old scary house built on an abandoned apple orchard.
- Affably Evil - Leslie Vernon is so charming and friendly that the filmmakers completely forget that their new buddy is an aspiring mass murderer. This seems to be par for the course for killers. Eugene, the retired slasher, is also very personable.
- Affectionate Parody: Cross with a Deconstructive Parody of the horror slasher genre.
- All Myths Are True - Variation. All slasher movie characters are real. Subverted, however, in that Leslie Vernon turns out to be Leslie Mancuso, a mortal man who's simply using the urban legend of slain Leslie Vernon to instill fear in the townsfolk and implying, by extension, that Freddy, Jason, et al were similarly lacking in supernatural powers.
- And Show It to You - One of the stoners gets it with a post-hole digger.
- Ascended Fanboy - Leslie looked up to the great slashers of the past as his idols, and now he gets to be one.
- Balance Between Good and Evil - Leslie's driving force, and the alleged driving force of many a serial killer out there. In order for good to triumph over evil, there needs to be evil, and Leslie feels it is his duty to provide it.
- Batman Gambit - Leslie is really good at predicting what people will do.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick - Leslie has a habit of discussing murder in the same sentence as he might discuss his favorite food or his pets. One of his comments suggests that his favorite food and his pets may be one and the same.
- Buried Alive - Eugene, the retired slasher, has this done to himself deliberately. Apparently it's a form of meditation that helps him slow his heart rate and breathing to undetectable levels. He's first introduced after Leslie and the unseen camera crew have to unearth him. Leslie has also studied the trick.
- Captain Ersatz - Doc Halloran dresses and wears his beard the same as Dr. Samuel Loomis. They also have the same occupation and relationship with their killer patients. His name, however, is a reference to The Shining.
- Chekhov's Gun
- The cider press. Leslie indicates that it will be of some importance, though does not say for what. Taylor uses it to "kill" Leslie.
- The tree branches near the second story of Leslie's house.
- Chekhov's Skill - The mentor showing that he can feign death by meditating in his sensory deprivation chamber.
- Cool Mask - Leslie, of course.
- Crazy-Prepared - The bulk of the film is dedicated to Leslie's preparation for every possible scenario.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy - Leslie has studied everything there is to know about slasher killings, and has prepared his oeuvre using all of his collected knowledge.
- Deadline News - The crew loses a cameraman to the killer.
- Deadpan Snarker - Todd, the camera man.
- Death by Sex - Discussed well in advance and eventually invoked by Leslie when he begins his killing spree. It's even justified since the reason Leslie kills the copulating young couple first is because they are both distracted and away from the central group.
- Deconstructor Fleet - Takes apart the slasher genre bit by bit and pieces it back together again.
- Determinator - Doc Halloran, Leslie's "Ahab".
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Intentional on Leslie's part. He tells Taylor all the Freudian motifs within the journey of Final Girl towards heroism, namely how the moment she grabs a weapon (a phallic object) to fight him she's, in his own words, "empowering herself with cock". In the climax this gets a reference when Taylor is being choked by Leslie, causing she to run down her hand through his chest trying to grasp his weapon in a way that evokes rather strongly sexual imagery.
- Dropped A Bridge On Her - Kelly, built up to be the virginal survivor girl throughout the movie, is caught having sex and using a fairly advanced position. The crew then decides they need to protect Kelly before Leslie can discover that his girl isn't quite the virgin he believed. Kelly, about to become completely central to the resolution of the plot, is instead unceremoniously dispatched when she attempts to crawl out the second-story window onto a sabotaged tree branch... and falls to her death.
- Evil Plan- Leslie's plan is ultimately to be defeated by his final girl.
- Eyes Always Shut - The two stoners.
- Final Girl - Referred to as a "survivor girl." Played with, in that the girl Leslie has been setting up as the Final Girl turns out not to be a virgin, and thus not the designated survivor — Taylor, the woman making the documentary, was his intended Final Girl all along.
- Go Through Me - Doug, one of the camera operators, at least puts forth the effort.
- Godiva Hair - When Kelly, the supposed survivor girl, hops on the nerdy kid's johnson like it's a pogo stick.
- Love Makes You Crazy
- In the sense that Leslie Vernon loves his intended Survivor Girl. Of course, when asked about it, he says "I love the idea of her."
- Leslie takes the documentary crew to visit his best friends, Eugene and Jamie, a married couple who are strongly implied to have started as a slasher-survivor girl relationship.
- May-December Romance - There's at least twenty years between Eugene and Jamie, and probably more than thirty.
- Menacing Stroll - Explained in a deleted scene. The killer runs while the victim isn't looking and slows to a power walk when the victim turns around.
- Meta Guy - Leslie, of course.
- Mockumentary - A bunch of graduate students follow around a slasher as he prepares for a supernatural killing spree.
- Mood Whiplash - The last 15 minutes or so are played as a straight slasher.
- My Car Hates Me - Justified in this case. One of Leslie's tricks is to remove spark plugs.
- Not Quite Dead - Guess who wakes up in the credits.
- Offscreen Teleportation - Used extensively by Leslie. He explains this tactic as stage magic, having learned it by studying the likes of Houdini, as well as extensive cardio.
- Old Master - Eugene, a retired slasher and Leslie's best friend.
- Panty Shot - The camera watches one of the girls ascending a ladder. Twice.
- Peek-A-Boo Corpse - It wouldn't be a slasher homage without one.
- The Reveal: Leslie isnt Leslie Vernon at all, he never existed. He's just some guy using the Vernon urban legend to get famous
- Reference Overdosed - Even beyond the more obvious shout outs, there are dozens of far more subtle references to various horror movies, particularly slashers.
- Halloween: The opening scene discusses the events of these movies in Haddonfield, Illinois, as real. Michael Myers is mentioned a few times. Doc Halloran's role, occupation, and style are nearly the same as those of Dr. Sam Loomis. There's also an opening shot with Taylor that shows the Red Rabbit Pub. Not to mention, Eugene's wife is Jamie, and Kelly's family name is Curtis. Sounds familiar?
- Friday the 13th: The murders at Crystal Lake are also discussed during the opening scene, and Jason Voorhees is mentioned a few times. There's also a slow-motion shot in a barn near the end that appears to be an homage to a shot in Part III. Leslie Vernon's real surname is Mancuso, possibly related to Frank Mancuso Jr, who produced all of the Friday The 13th sequels and the related TV series
- A Nightmare on Elm Street: Not only are Freddy Krueger's killings mentioned during the opening, the house featured in the original movie is shown with Kane Hodder as a briefly-shown resident. Additionally, there's a shot of three little girls in white playing jumprope.
- Hellraiser: A puzzle box is visible at Eugene and Jamie's house.
- Pet Sematary: Leslie's turtles, Church and Zoe, are named after the pets in both this movie and its sequel.
- Maniac: The bit when Leslie starts to cry and says "I'm so happy" is a reference to a rather disturbing scene from this movie.
- The Shining: The music playing in the background while Leslie puts on his makeup is a reference to this. Additionally, Doc Halloran is named after a character from this movie.
- The Scourge of God - Booze, drugs and sex are conventional means of getting killed in an slasher; this is no different.
- Sinister Scythe - Leslie's Weapon of Choice, although it's actually a hand scythe.
- Slasher Movie - Part of it, anyway.
- Spiritual Successor: Of Scream.
- Statuesque Stunner - Kelly, the girl that Leslie spends much of the movie stalking, is both very attractive and very tall, especially noticeable when standing next to Taylor, who is played by the 5'4" Angela Goethals. Her height is never pointed out in the film. The closest the film comes is in the audio commentary, when some of the filmmakers seem to notice it for the first time.
- Stoners Are Funny - Two of teenagers in Leslie's target group are one-dimensional potheads appropriately credited as Stoned Guy and Slightly More Stoned Guy.
- Too Dumb to Live - Lampshaded.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Of course, the spoken plan goes off without a hitch, too. At least the parts that weren't deliberate misdirection.
- Villain Protagonist - Leslie Vernon.
- The Voiceless - Averted for most of the movie; unlike most of the well-known slashers, Leslie is very chatty. This flip-flops during the final act, when Leslie gets into character and plays this trope (mostly) straight.
- Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb - The situation for which Leslie is preparing. He expects the group of friends who associate with survivor girl Kelly will dare each other to spend the night in the creepy old farm house on the Vernon orchard. Naturally, they do, with the usual results.