The marriage of horror and comedy has given birth to a few favorite children ("Young Frankenstein," "Scream") and plenty of ugly ones ("Child's Play," "Scream" 2 and 3). But what of the unholy trinity of horror, comedy and mockumentary? Despite some birthing pains, "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" comes across at its best as the love child of Wes Craven and Christopher Guest.
In this universe, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers all exist -- and are pioneers of the "industry," heroes to affable young Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel, TV's "Invasion"), who is planning his very first murder spree. Leslie enthusiastically demonstrates to amateur documentarian Taylor (Angela Goethals) how a burgeoning boogeyman nurtures a legend, selects that special victim and rigs tricks to strike terror in the hearts of naughty teens before slicing and dicing them.
After an awkward opening, "Behind the Mask" finds its groove as first-time director (and co-writer) Scott Glosserman gleefully hacks up horror cliches to deconstruct the genre with carnivorous, lip-smacking delight. It's a meta-slasher flick: Leslie and Taylor even discuss the symbolism of his actions in offhanded Freudian jargon.
Film students will titter at the idea that the subjects of their analysis could actually think the things professors impose upon them.