Leatherface (2017)

September 24, 2017 - 9:29pm | FrighT MasteR

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Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Finn Jones, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Nicole Andrews, James Bloor, Sam Strike, Sam Coleman, Vanessa Grasse, Simona Williams, Christopher Adamson

I'm not sure what Hollywood's obsession is with origin stories, but we've been getting a lot of them lately, especially for these veteran horror franchises. In this case, what initially started out as another sequel to the TCM franchise eventually became a prequel to the original. The movie actually completed filming back in 2015 and essentially sat on the shelves for a good year before it started traveling festivals. The distributor supposedly got cold feet and feared they had a possible failure on their hands, which might explain the film being dumped onto VOD (video on demand), but not before its exclusive run on DirecTV.

The story ignores the past sequels and takes place many years before the events of the original, where we follow a disturbed young boy (pre-Leatherface) who gets thrown into a mental hospital as a child, only to finally escape the dreaded place as a teenager. With a hospital nurse as a hostage, a teenage Leatherface goes on the run, along with a couple insane male peers and a crazy and equally violent female patient. Hot on their trail is a determined Texas Ranger (Stephen Dorff), who has had a grudge against the Sawyer family ever since they killed his teen daughter years ago.

French directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (duo behind the bloody slasher Inside) got behind the camera for this installment, which mostly just focused on the group of teens making their way through the state and trying to evade law enforcement along the way. Of course they make a couple stops for a little murder and mayhem (and to have sex on top of a corpse for whatever reason). One such stop takes place in a diner where they massacre most of the people inside, which proved to be a pretty violent sequence and showcased the director's love for bloody practical effects.

Gore aside, the movie is essentially just an on-the-run/road movie and only feels like an actual part of the TCM universe in the beginning and the end. In fact, despite the movie's title, we don't actually get to see Leatherface until the last 20-or-so minutes. Until that point we're just following these troubled youths killing random people and evading the police. The filmmakers even try to play with the viewer's perception in a lame attempt to conceal who will eventually become the chainsaw-wielding killer, but it seemed quite obvious early on who Leatherface really was, despite their hardest to specifically point at one kid who admittedly would've fit the part perfectly, at least physically.

I admire the fact that the filmmakers tried to do something a little different for the franchise and even attempted to give us another side to the Leatherface character, making him more of a product of his environment and circumstance in what would ultimately lead him down the path as the iconic skin-wearing villain. Unfortunately it just felt like the filmmakers veered a little too far off what we've come to know from the series to the point that it simply didn't feel quite enough like a TCM movie and that's my biggest complaint. Aside from that it's a decent flick, even proving to be better than the last installment (TCM 3D) in many ways, specifically the writing. The added practical gore was a bonus and made up for some of the film's faults, especially with what they did for a key chainsaw scene towards the end.

While the movie proved better than the last sequel, it's still far from being a good addition to the long-running franchise, with my biggest complaint being the fact that it just didn't quite feel like a TCM movie. It's more of an on-the-run/road movie following a bunch of terribly violent youths and only became about Leatherface well into the third act. If you're eager for any kind of bloody TCM action then you may dig this, but if you're looking for the return of the iconic chainsaw-wielding killer then you'll likely be left a little disappointed.

Author Information

FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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