Review – LEATHERFACE (2017)

Of all the horror franchises, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has been one of the most execrable. Starting at a very high point in 1974, the series has done absolutely nothing but go straight down the shitter like a mushy turd (aside from a stubborn floater here and there). When it was announced that the directorial team of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (the creative duo behind the 2007 French horror film, Inside) would helm a prequel to the original, it seemed like producers were just trying to milk more money from a dead cow. Regardless, fans pondered: could Bustillo and Maury deliver a film with some life

Official synopsis:

A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell while being pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge.

Let me start with this: while Leatherface doesn’t remotely hold a candle to the original (surprised?), it blows every other sequel/remake/reboot/reimagining/cynical cash-in – whatever the hell you wanna call ‘em – that has come down the pike. And it does this by focusing on telling a good story instead of just throwing a bunch of death fodder in front of a chainsaw. Leatherface differs from all the others in the series by avoiding the slasher template and being more of a road movie. Here, you will see the characters run from the law, shoot up a diner, have sex on top of a corpse and hide in the carcass of an ox, among many other things.

While the characters aren’t exactly well-developed, they are different enough to be memorable and to make viewers care about their fate. All the actors turn in fine performances with not a dud in sight; Stephen Dorff turns in a particularly nasty performance as Hartman. He and Sheriff Wydell (The Devil’s Rejects for those wondering) need to get together and go bowling. Definitely another case of a cop who goes off the deep end in his quest for revenge.

A major point I have to give the film is, so far as I can tell, no CGI was used (or there was very little). All the effects are solid and practical. And yes, even the blood is actual fake blood! Catch me, I think I’m gonna faint! Also, mega points for building a house which resembles the original, including the layout (at least what we know of it). Definitely put a smile on my face. And I’m pretty sure it’ll do the same for you.

Now, no film is perfect, and that includes Leatherface. The only real gripe I have with this film is the final act. After a really strong first and second act, the third (when we finally witness the birth of Leatherface) falls a bit flat. Maybe it’s because everything before it is so fun we forget we’re watching a Texas Chainsaw movie; maybe because it feels a bit rushed, like they just wanted to go “Look, it’s Leatherface!” then roll the end credits. Either way, I almost wish the first and second parts were developed into their own movie. All the ingredients are there to make one hell of a film about people making a run to Mexico while avoiding a deranged lawman.

Despite this little fault, Leatherface is a solid film and an excellent addition to the Chainsaw franchise (in fact, the only addition there should be). Give it a spin and I’m pretty sure you’ll agree. Leatherface is currently available exclusively on DirecTV. A VOD and limited theatrical release are slated for October 20. 

About Evan Romero

Evan Romero has been a horror fan since watching “Leprechaun” at the age of five. Aside from watching and writing about horror flicks, he delights in torturing friends with Z-grade movies. He’s also an unabashed Andy Milligan fan, God help him.

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