Leatherface Review

Leatherface Poster #2

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of those films that were game changers in the horror genre. Although it was a low budget film, it was a game-changer for the slasher genre. Seeing Leatherface chase after Sally during the daytime was something I’ve never seen in a horror film before. Typically, daytime meant that the “final girl” would be safe. Not so with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Unfortunately, the series itself has been on the decline as of late. With Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D being the last film in the franchise, can Leatherface bring the Massacre series back in the good graces of horror fans?

Sadly, Leatherface is another step down for the struggling franchise. Even though Leatherface is touted as an origin film, the film doesn’t delve deep into his origin story at all. Not to mention, the rest of the Sawyer family is left on the sidelines. With a lack of Leatherface and his psychotic family, fans will wonder why this film was a part of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series in the first place.

Leatherface follows a teenage Jed Sawyer as he escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates and a young nurse. The group goes on a road trip from hell while being pursued by a sheriff out for revenge.

Leatherface - Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor

Although Leatherface works as a mild introduction into the franchise, it doesn’t work as an origin story. It’s commendable that the filmmakers tried to mix things up with the way they present Leatherface’s origin story. Notably when they try to disguise who Leatherface among a cast of characters. Unfortunately, the film continually loses its focus as it goes through the film. In other words, it tries to be a lot of things without nailing down that one central tone. Ultimately, this “origin” film has absolutely nothing to do with the origin of Leatherface.

In this case, it’s only the beginning and end scenes that delve a bit into the origin of Leatherface. However, the problem with that is that fans of Texas Chainsaw Massacre already know the facts revealed in these two scenes. It’s nothing new to them. To top it all off, Jed’s sudden transformation into a psychopathic killer is completely unbelievable. The phrase “going from zero to a hundred real quick” comes to mind here.

Not to mention, the storyline isn’t that interesting either. Other than the beginning and end scenes involving the Sawyer family, the film is just stale at best. The film offers very little in terms of surprises, scares, and suspense. Leatherface attempts to get us to root for “heroes” of the film. Sadly, this doesn’t work because we don’t know anything about these characters. There’s not a lot of redeeming qualities to them either. Even Lizzy the nurse is someone you can’t root for because of her questionable decisions. She’s the type of horror film stereotype that’ll make you yell at the screen because of her decisions.

But the biggest disappointment of all comes from directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury. The directors of the crazy (but excellent) Inside had the opportunity to elevate this film. Those who have seen Inside know that these directors know how to stage horror set pieces. Yet the film deteriorates into a pointless shock and awe type of horror film. To put it another way, Leatherface is not that scary.

Leatherface - James Bloor, Jessica Madsen, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse, and Sam Coleman

As for the main cast, they’re mediocre at best too. Vanessa Grasse does well in her early scenes, but once everything goes awry she regresses. Then again, the screenplay doesn’t give Grasse much material to act in. James Bloor and Jessica Madsen chew the scenery whenever they’re on screen. Sam Strike provides the better performance out of the group as he shows an array of emotions. Granted, he hams it up when he does go psycho but he keeps it under wraps for the most part.

The supporting cast is full of recognizable actors yet they provide little to the film. Stephen Dorff provides the best performance in the entire film. Although, that’s not saying much. Dorff is scary, ruthless, and a bit sympathetic. In addition, Finn Jones is as average here as he is in the Netflix/Marvel series. The only difference is that he has a bad Texas accent here. Lili Taylor does well as Verna Sawyer, the family’s matriarch. She’s motherly yet incredibly insane at the same time.

Overall, Leatherface is a disappointing entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. The franchise has certainly seen some better days. Yet with a dull script, average acting, and no origin story involved, Leatherface has a very limited amount of redeeming factors. Even the most die-hard of fans will find it hard to recommend the film.

Rating: 1/5 atoms

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