Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

You know what there are not a lot of? Documentaries about serial killers. Well, no, that’s the opposite of what is true, there are actually like a ton of those. By literal film-reel weight, I mean. But there aren’t very many documentaries about uncaught serial killers. Well, that might not be true either. Because, like, Unsolved Mysteries, right? I’m pretty sure that show became a genre once there was a Court TV. But, okay, this time I’m going to be right: there are very few documentaries about uncaught serial killers from the perspective of the serial killer. Including, you understand, interviews and other literal documentary footage.

Before yesterday, as it happens, I would have said there were actually no such documentaries. But now I have seen Behind the Mask[1], and I can say that there’s one, anyway. It actually starts off playing for comedy to some extent, both because our slasher[2] is personable and funny in the confines of his soulless psychopathy and also because the very concept of a documentary crew following around a murderer is kind of laughable. But the moment when the horror of what they are witnessing (and, let’s be honest, doing) finally begins to sink through, the movie shifts from comedy to the finest example of post-modern horror I’ve seen since Scream. This is definitely a must-see for genre fans, and I’m sad I had never heard of it until a month ago!

[1] I should note, incidentally, that the mask itself is in fact at the intersection of cool and creepy to such degree that I’m very slightly surprised there hasn’t been a sequel based on that alone.
[2] Oh, right, I lied a little bit. “Serial killer” is the best way to portray the type of person I mean in a documentary setting, but truthfully this guy is a slasher; some famous previous-movie slashers are his heroes, and there’s obviously some nod to the idea of, if not the supernatural, at the very least that these guys work damn hard to appear supernatural.

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