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

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

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.

  • Overall Score


A blood-soaked prequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface attempts to provide an inciting incident for murderous evil to underwhelming results.


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
Mario Van Peebles Talks About His New Movie ‘Armed’

Acclaimed filmmaker, writer, actor and any other title he deserves, Mario...

‘I Feel Bad,’ Episode Two is Better than the Pilot (Minimal Spoilers)

About half an hour ago, I let loose my frustrations on...

‘I Feel Bad’ Continues the Whitewashing of Asian Cultures

I Feel Bad made me feel awful as yet another show...

Event News Event Reviews
viz media
Have no Fear, for Viz Media is Here! – SDCC 2018

I grew up reading more manga than I did American comics....

Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut
32 Years Ago Today, Was The Transformers: The Movie Theatrical Debut

On this day, 32 years ago, the world was graced with The...

Blizzard SDCC 2018
Blizzard SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment Brings Massive Lineup to SDCC

Blizzard in SDCC 2018 – Blizzard Entertainment brings Overwatch, StarCraft, and...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Exclusive Track Premiere from Madden NFL 19!

(July 26, 2018 – Los Angeles, CA) – Lakeshore Records today...

Star Ocean Anamnesis
The Most Intuitively Fun Gameplay of Any Mobile RPG – Star Ocean Anamnesis Review

Star Ocean Anamnesis is hands down the most fun and intuitive gameplay...

Ghostbusters World
Strap On Your Jumpsuits and Proton Packs – Ghostbusters World First Look

Ghostbusters World First Look at SDCC2018 – When someone asks you if...

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
Five Questions for Gary Morgenstein About ‘A Mound Over Hell’

Gary Morgenstein is a journalist, public relations expert and author with...

Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel
Dark Horse Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic Novel Revealed

Dark Horse reveals new original Disney Ralph Breaks the Internet Graphic...

black torch
Black Torch – New Supernatural, Action Manga from Viz Media

VIZ Media releases a new, supernatural story with the release of...

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
DC Collectibles Brings Batman Dark Nights: Metal to Life

Straight from the pages of the bestselling DARK NIGHTS: METAL comics series comes...

Make Better PIX this Year with PIX Smart Animative Backpack

Start the school year off by making better life PIX, like picking up...

Chuck Billy of Testament Talks About His Signature Vaporizer

Chuck Billy of Testament talks about, “The Chief” his signature vaporizer,...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Bellator Hawaii to be Exlusively Aired on DAZN

From Bellator MMA – LOS ANGELES – The Neal S. Blaisdell Arena...

USA Boxing’s 1st West Coast Alumni Association Comes to Hollywood

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (September 11, 2018) – The stars will be...

Trifecta/UFC Kick-off Golden Ticket Giveaway for Sold Out UFC 229 Khabib vs. McGregor Epic VIP Experience

Running from today, September 11th through September 16th, the first 250 orders...

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...?
Fantoy Comics presents: Harry Potter and the cat conjuring pt: 5… no, 4!

Oh this cat conjuring thing is getting out of hand!

Fantoy Comics Presents Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring Pt3

Pt 3 of the epic non-canonical Harry Potter and the Cat...

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Cat Conjuring pt 2

Pt 2 in the epic non-canonical adventure of Harry Potter and...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Coastal Commoners Ep 2 Who’s Better Chris Jericho or Ric Flair and The Black Superman ‘Controversy’

This week Gary and R.C. respectfully disagree on who the better...

Coastal Commoners Ep 1 Rosh Hashanah and the Assyrian/Jewish Connection

Editor’s Note: The views of Mr. Morgenstein and Mr. Samo do...

Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Deadpool 2 Vinyl Giveaway!

We are giving away a copy of Deadpool 2 Score Soundtrack on...

Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack
Blake Neely Behind-the-Scenes Recording of Crisis on Earth-X Soundtrack

Check out this exclusive Behind-The-Scenes video with Blake Neely as he...

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

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

%d bloggers like this: