Subtext is scarce in Scott Glosserman's Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a meta–horror flick of Craven self-satisfaction. The film's eponymous loon, as played by Nathan Baesel, is the type who'd give himself a blow job if he could—and judging by an impromptu flip he does in one scene, he's probably tried. This pathological cutie aspires to myth, living in a world where Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Jason Voorhees are not only real but also revered as heroes by an outspoken serial-killer community that includes a former psycho-slasher played by Scott Wilson (check IMDb.com for in-joke). Taylor Gentry (Angela Goethals) is the aspiring documentary filmmaker who records Leslie's plan to become the next big bogeyman, a "business of fear" that includes stuffing his intended crime scene with Freudian symbology, casting teenage sluts and stoners, and doing cardio so he never looks out of breath. Taylor's obvious sense of decency and journalistic aspirations blow the promising premise's credibility from the start—why would she conspire to record a murder?—but it's Glosserman's snarky pandering that's most damning. Desperately overcompensating for the fact that most horror films are already parodies of themselves, Behind the Mask takes a bite out of the dumb Scream franchise before devouring its own tail, proving that you are what you eat. ED GONZALEZ
Opens at area theaters, Fri., March 16. Rated R. 92 minutes.