THE RETURN OF LESLIE VERNON! Writer Talks BEHIND THE MASK 2!Share on Facebook
BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON was one of the bigger breaths of fresh air the horror genre took in recent years; going on to be a cult favorite. BHM recently put the film at #70 in its top 100 horror films of all time, while Horror-Movies.ca just put the film in its “Top 10 most influential horror films of the last 10 years” list.
Blending horror and comedy, deconstructing slasher films as well as becoming one of the finest examples of the subgenre; mixing realism with melodrama... there aren’t many films that can cover these many bases and simply work. Vernon was a universal success at festivals and with critics, although criminally underseen during its limited theatrical release. Thanks to DVD, the next great slasher heavyweight has seen his hoped-for following grow in number month after month.
I checked in with Vernon writer David J. Stieve this week (who I’d interviewed for IOF in July of ’07 about Vernon and other upcoming projects) just to inquire what he’d been working on lately. Asking about a heist film DAYS LIKE THIS and a Christmas tale THE NIGHT BEFORE he’d been developing; he actually revealed that thanks to consistently healthy DVD sales there's been some “concrete interest in making a sequel to BEHIND THE MASK soon”. And though he couldn’t say who with, he did add “it's legitimate enough to get (director) Scott (Glosserman) and I working on the story and plotting it out.”
Stieve had touched on where he might have taken the narrative if he ever wrote a followup back in his Icons interview and I wondered if they had planned to keep that angle, with Leslie figuring out how to handle his initial notoriety and ‘sudden success’ while deconstructing sequel-based conventions about a killer returning after his initial headline-making massacre.
DJS: “There are components of what we aim to do that I expect will be similar, but back then I only had vague notions. Now Scotty and I are getting into specifics, and as you can imagine things have changed. Just as Scotty and I, even Nathan (Baesel) perhaps, have changed in our professional lives. One thing we can certainly touch on is the idea that the parallels to real life continue.”
One could have envisioned Leslie Vernon as any other aspiring artist debuting in a competitive field, which matched the debut filmmaking efforts of Glosserman and Stieve as well as its talented lead; addressing where Leslie would find himself post-murder spree looks to comment on where his creators have found themselves now. “Leslie's journey as a "craftsman" has had to be adjusted to the reality of what happened to his fledgling mythology after the events of the Harvest Moon Killings”, states David. “So, too, have our expectations as filmmakers in the wake of how things unfolded after the release of the film in real life.”
One aspect cerebral fans embraced in the first film’s storytelling was the blending of a documentary-world aesthetic and the film-world, depending on the point of view. While he didn’t mention if all the same documentary characters/crew would be involved or how this is depicted this time out, “I can tell you that there IS a way we're blending the documentary and cinematic lenses again. And there is also a manner in which Taylor (Angela Goethals) and Leslie are forced to cooperate with one another, although not necessarily on the best of terms. There's definitely a perverse love story that must be honored, but then again they did try pretty hard to kill each other. Not exactly a ‘kiss and make up’ situation. There's a sort of bigger, badder influence that's threatening everything Leslie's worked to accomplish, and Taylor may have her own agenda for ‘helping’ him. Or does she?”
David was quick to stress that a followup to Vernon would certainly not be a direct retread or something that has to be written simply because of DVD profits: “Scott and I are painfully aware of the sequel trap, of treading the same ground again with nothing more than a bigger budget. That's not what's going to happen. Things didn't go the way Leslie wanted them to, particularly in the reaction of the residents of Glen Echo. I can't give any more details than that, but suffice to say, we find Leslie a little perplexed that he ‘did everything right, everything went exactly according to plan!’ and yet the aftermath of his rampage is a right-turn derailment of what he was expecting. So he, being Leslie, regroups and plays the hand he's been dealt. How Taylor and the boys get involved is part of the unfolding of his efforts in that regard.
I'm VERY pleased that we've found what we feel is a progressive, organic,and rational way to make that happen. Again, the real world parallel is that our efforts as filmmakers also needed to be re-calibrated and adjusted to the reality of the industry. I feel we've found that signature blending of the two worlds at the story level. Albeit this time, the industry is going to take a few harder shots.”
Stieve adds Leslie this time around is “channeling Freddy a bit more this time, finding some frightening ways to express his sense of humor.”
While the narrative’s been mapped out and Glosserman and Stieve hope to make major announcements soon, he did mention they’ve welcomed the continuous feedback from fans online and on their sites; The Behind the Mask website, MySpace and Facebook pages are still maintained/visited by the film’s creators; fans can continue to discuss Leslie’s continuing reign of terror, one scythe-slash at a time.
We wrapped up our chat with Stieve once again determined, as is Leslie, to raise the bar on the nightmarish goings-on in Glen Echo. “When you think about it, Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy Krueger all had to pay their dues. It's not an instantaneous process, even in their world! So each of us, individually and collectively, have come to realize how much more work we need to do. We all accept it and are up to the task. We've learned our lessons, taken our lumps, and we're going to craft a better story for Leslie as a result. Leslie is redoubling his efforts to become the greatest slasher killer ever. He knows it's gonna be a longer race than he thought, and he's gearing up to win it. Woe to the ones who doubt him or get in his way!”
- Adam Barnick
Don't forget to check out ALL of our FRIGHT exclusive interview with the people involved in BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, including -
Leslie Vernon himself, NATHAN BAESEL!
BEHIND THE MASK Director SCOTT GLOSSERMAN!
BEHIND THE MASK Writer DAVID J STIEVE!
BEHIND THE MASK Composer GORDY HAAB!
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