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

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.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

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
The Ballad of Lefty Brown Trailer
Bill Pullman Seeks Bloody Vengance in the Trailer for ‘The Ballad of Lefty Brown’

Everyone loves a good ol’ fashioned revenge flick, and A24 and...

Todd Haynes’ ‘Wonderstruck’ Weaves Two Beautiful Tales Into a Majestic Whole

There are two stories that intertwine in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstuck, the...

Shudder Universal Monsters
Just in Time for Halloween, the Universal Monsters Land on Shudder

You may not have noticed this, but we’re inching closer and...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Review – Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash (PS4)

When was the last time PBS was this exciting? Senran Kagura:...

Save the Light
Cartoon Network Reveals Global Launch of Steven Universe RPG ‘Save the LIght’

Cartoon Network finally announces the global launch of the Steven Universe RPG Save...

Yu-Gi-Oh! Code of the Duelist Special Edition
Kind of Like a Cheat Code – Yu-Gi-Oh! Code of the Duelist Special Edition Review

It’s kind of like using a cheat code without cheating –...

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
hello kitty coloring
VIZ Media Releases New Hello Kitty and Friends Coloring Book

VIZ Media expands its catalog with one of the world’s largest...

Red Robin Returns in Detective Comics No. 965…or Does He!?!

Title: Detective Comics #965 Writer: James Tynion IV Penciler: Eddy Barrows...

VIZ Media Announces New Digital Manga Content For August Update

TLDR New Viz Media digital manga updates for August that include...

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
The Brain Booster Specifically for Gamers – GodMode

For those struggling to get a positive K/Dratio, Boss Level Labs...

Circuit Break
In Yu-Gi-Oh! Dragons Soar and Wires Get Crossed Due to a Circuit Break

Legendary Dragons soar and wires get crossed thanks to Circuit Break...

Legendary Dragon Decks
Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG Legendary Dragon Decks Releasing 10/6/2017

Everyone favorite mythological creatures are hitting the Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG hard with the...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
AXS TV Closes NJPW’s ‘G1 Climax 27’ With Four Episodes From The Final Weekend Beginning Friday Oct. 13

Los Angeles, CA (Oct. 11, 2017) – “Rainmakers” and “High Fly...

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Rocky Romero has created an auction to raise money for UNIDOS por Puerto Rico Disaster Relief

I’m The costume was worn by Rocky during the final Roppongi...

Douglas Lima Defends his Bellator Welterweight Title Against Rory MacDonald at the Forum on 1/20

LOS ANGELES – One year removed from its previous event at...

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...?
Comics on the Can – Double Dragon

Comics on the can Double Dragon Writer – Dwayne McDuffie Pencils...


A totally true recap of the most important geek cultural even...

Comics on the Can: Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers

Written by John Barber, Pencils by Steve Kurth, Inks by Juan...

Event News Event Reviews
Yu-Gi-Oh! at New York Comic Con
Konami Showcases Yu-Gi-Oh! at New York Comic Con

It’s time to duel! Konami Digital Entertainment showcases Yu-Gi-Oh! at New...

Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience Is Coming to Europe and North America 2018

LOS ANGELES (September 26, 2017) – The critically acclaimed Game of Thrones® Live...

The Third Annual ‘BeerX’ from 91X in San Diego Featured Sunburns and Beer Goggles

This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual BeerX, presented by...

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

A look back at the year in gaming.

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
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,...

Lahna Turner’s ‘Limeade’ is a Hilariously Haunting Comedy Album

Many people are roll their eyes at the idea of musical...