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Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film includes the usual slasher-style violence -- stalking, stabbing, shooting, hooking with large farm implements -- as well as brief nudity and sexual activity (since sexually active teens are standard victims in such movies). There are lots of conversations about methods of killing people and the uses of "fear" in culture, some basic spooky scenes (dark shadows, creaky doors), and some jump scenes. Many bloody effects (dismemberments, bodies hidden in closets) and frequent profanity (mostly "f--k").
What's the story?
In Scott Glosserman's slasher parody BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) explains himself to a college TV news crew, including intrepid reporter Taylor (Angela Goethals), who keep asking questions about why Leslie and the monsters he emulates -- Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), and Michael Myers (Halloween) -- feel the need to target nubile teens who scream and run and fall down in the dark.
Is it any good?
Older teens may be interested in this slasher film spoof, which isn't as goofy and action-packed as the Scream franchise but plays up the same idea. According to Behind the Mask, Leslie's desire to kill anonymous teens could be a sign of psychosis or a symptom of the culture that offers up imagery as entertainment. Wanting to be famous like his idols, Leslie manipulates the TV crew for maximum effect, understanding the interlocking of violence and media, spectacle and spectators. Clearly, Behind the Masks's shrewd parody is geared for viewers familiar with TV forensics lessons, Nancy Grace, and torture as (unacknowledged) wartime policy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the uses of parody. Does making fun of fears serve a different or similar purpose to acting them out straightforwardly, as in regular horror movies? How can you be scared and laugh at something at the same time? Families can also discuss the basic dynamics of the slasher movie formula. How do the predetermined character types -- the Survivor Girl, the Ahab, the Killer -- come together to make the scary formula work? Is this movie a successful spoof? Why or why not?
- In theaters: March 16, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: June 26, 2007
- Cast: Angela Goethals, Nathan Baesel, Zelda Rubinstein
- Director: Scott Glosserman
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence, language, some sexual content and brief drug use.
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