‘Leatherface’ Delivers a Bloody Underwhelming Origin for a Horror Icon

Costume SuperCentre Canada

For some reason there are those who think that everything has to have an origin story, especially famous monsters and murderers that have populated classic horror films. Rob Zombie tried to this with his remake of Halloween, which dove deep into the psyche of Michael Myers in his youth. Now in the same vein is Leatherface, a prequel which aims to provide us with the origin story for the Ed Gein-inspired murder from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What movies like these fail to understand is that evil doesn’t require an inciting act, and providing a reason for evil to exist dilutes the terror that grips us. Leatherface is a brutal, ugly work of cinema that is relentlessly unpleasant to watch and never once approaches the level of terror of Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece of horror.

The film opens with the matriarch of the Sawyer family, Verna (Lili Taylor), bestowing her youngest son with a chainsaw, though the young man is unwilling to use his new tool of destruction on a man tied to a chair. This twisted backwoods clan runs afoul with the law when the deranged youth lay a trap for a young woman who just happens to be the daughter of Texas Ranger Hal Hartman (Stephen Dorff). Upon the grisly discovery, Ranger Hartman is able to use the law to get Verna’s children taken from her.

Years later in a Texas mental institution, Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) is starting her first day as a nurse. She meets Jackson (Sam Strike), a young and uneasy man who often looks out for his obese and mostly silent friend Bud (Sam Coleman). Lizzy’s first day becomes a nightmare when an insurrection breaks out and most of the inmates are able to violently gain their freedom. Against her will, Lizzy is taken captive along with Jackson and Bud with Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice (Jessica Madsen), a violent and bloodthirsty couple that makes Bonnie and Clyde look like the Waltons. Ranger Hartman knows that one of these fugitive youths is a member of the Sawyer family and along with his fellow Ranger (Finn Jones) set out stopping the bloody road trip.

Written by Seth M. Sherwood and directed by the French duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, Leatherface really tries to play it close to the vest as to which of these characters will grow up to be the chainsaw-wielding murderer with a facemask of human flesh. Maybe it’d all work better if there was some reason to be invested in any of these characters, but every character with the exception of Lizzy is utterly repellant with a sadistic streak running beneath the surface. This is a movie without any heroes and it works against it so much because it’s basically trying to establish a timeline of abuses that provide some kind of acceptable motivation for a mass murdering psychopath.

What makes the attempts to create an inciting act for a force of evil so underwhelming is how Bustillo and Maury seem incapable of utilize the graphic violence of Leatherface for anything other than shock and disgust. The blood and guts flow freely in Leatherface but it’s never even remotely horrific, let alone so absurdly shocking that’s it provides sick thrills. This is the kind of movie that operates under the mistaken notion that it was simply the violence that made Texas Chainsaw Massacre a classic therefore the bloodier the better. There’s just no tension to the story at play and each act of violence becomes more and more tiresome despite its escalating gruesomeness.

The young cast of Leatherface handle the subpar material well, only the demented duo of Ike and Clarice going way over the top with their performances. The real standouts in the cast are the veteran actors, who are mostly given the short end of the stick even though their talent transcends the material. I really would’ve liked a deeper dive into Lili Taylor’s Verna and what drove her to be the mad matriarch of the murderous Sawyer family. Stephen Dorff gives a reliable performance as the vengeance-seeking lawman, but it’s another case where his character is underdeveloped that his darker turn is underwhelming at best. Rounding out the cast is Finn Jones, who proves that his charisma void isn’t just limited to Iron Fist.

Leatherface is an unnecessary prequel that doesn’t ever achieve what it sets out to. More often than not, it’s incapable of anything other than trying to give evil a pass because it went through some traumatic moments. Life is full of trauma and presenting the kind of evil that is the face of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with an inciting incident undermines the horrific aspects of that evil. The fact that evil exists should be frightening enough without a sympathetic cause for mass murder.


One Response

  1. Jason Hobbs September 24, 2017 Reply

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Red Sparrow
Better Dead than ‘Red Sparrow’

There’s usually an element of sexiness with spy stories. They hide...

Ryan Coogler and the Cast of ‘Black Panther’ Discuss Bringing Wakanda to the Screen

After years of anticipation, Wakanda is finally making its way to...

Ready Player One Come with me
New ‘Ready Player One’ Trailer Hints at a World of Pure Imagination

We’re living in an odd age where nostalgia has taken over...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
This Bulb Takes Awhile to Light Up – Yu-Gi-Oh! Wave of Light Review

Celestial fairies and counter traps take a while to yield results...

The Dynasty Alters Its Course – Dynasty Warriors 9 Review [PC]

The long-time franchise changes the formula and ventures into a big...

gaming pcs
Prebuilt Gaming PCs: A Better Option in 2018?

A fellow member of the gaming master race, Founder of Easy...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Ninja-K #4: Much Ado About Ninjas

NINJA-K #4 Written By: Christos Gage Color By: Andrew Dalhouse Art By: Juan...

‘BLACK [AF]’ is Imperfect yet Full of Potential

Comics Twitter convinced me to bet on BLACK, the series about...

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ‘The Prisoner’ with Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Titan Comics

The Prisoner has been hailed as television’s first masterpiece; a surreal...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
WWE Slam Crate Starts the Year Off Right

In just two weeks time WWE’s Royal Rumble not only continues...

January’s Loot Crate is Here!

January is a month where resolutions are made, hopes are extended...

Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba
Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 Will Be Great For Your Yu-Gi-Oh Kaiba Cards

Yu-Gi-Oh March 2018 will be great for your collection of Yu-Gi-Oh...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Epic Fighting 37 Full Results

Epic Fighting 37 took place tonight from the Four Points Sheraton...

Bellator 193 Full Results

January 26, 2017 – Tonight Bellator returned to Pechanga in Temecula,...

Bellator 192 Full Results including the Welterweight Championship and Heavyweight Grand Prix

January 20, 2018 – Tonight, airing for the first time on...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Magic Hat Brewing Teams-Up with Dropkick Murphys for an Ale as Smooth as Their Sound

Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Company teams up with Boston’s Dropkick Murphys...

Cultural Junkdrawer ASSult on AVN pt 2: The Future!

Pt 2 of my AVN 2018 Recap! With Lloyd Kaufman, Pancakes...

Adult Continuity Presents: ASSult on AVN Pt 1: Sex Dolls and Concrete!

A firsthand account of the 2018 AVN show and ANE.

Event News Event Reviews
dough bar
The Dough Bar and the Protein Donut

Created by Marquez and Ondrea Fernandez, The Dough Bar Doughnuts are...

Improve Sleep and Performance with TrueDark

TrueDark by Biohacked aims to improve your sleep, performance, and health by...

Pyramid Escape Room Review
Escape Room LA’s The Pyramid Escape Room Review

Overview of The Pyramid Escape Room The Pyramid Escape Room, Escape Room...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

%d bloggers like this: