‘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.


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
Wolfman's Got Nards
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘Wolfman’s Got Nards’

The harsh reality of the movie business is that films often...

The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man
Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: ‘The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned From a Mystical Man’

We’ve all heard the stories in one form or another. Bill...

Amazon Studios Greenlights Invincible from The Walking Dead Creator Robert Kirkman

Amazon Studios greenlights Invincible, from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman,...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
LGBTQ Video Game Archives
Temple Professor Helps Launch First Exhibit of LGBTQ Video Game Archives

Temple University’s Dr. Adrienne Shaw is serving as a curator in her role...

Talking Tom Jetski2
Take a Virtual Beach Break with Talking Tom Jetski 2

Outfit7 celebrates 8 billion downloads of its mobile games with the...

PowerA Xbox One
Up Your Game with New Enhanced PowerA Xbox One Controllers

Up your game and get ready for the upcoming Xbox Exclusive...

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
Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams
Sam Kieth Makes Long-Awaited Return to The Outback in Batman / The Maxx: Arkham Dreams

SAN DIEGO, CA and BURBANK, CA (June 21, 2018) – Batman...

Wrestling Writer Legends Bill Apter & Gary Morgenstein Announce, ‘The Last Wrestler’

To names that are synonymous with professional wrestling journalism and well...

thousand year beach
The Thousand Year Beach – Viz Media Debuts Acclaimed Sci-Fi Novel

“The Thousand Year Beach presents an idyllic virtual world, still running...

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
Solo Lightweight Backpacks
Solo Lightweight Backpacks for the Late Summer Heat

Beat the heat with the new line of Solo lightweight backpacks: Peak,...

Out Of Space on Your Xbox One? Fantom Drives Has Your Back

Fantom Drives will ensure you have enough space on your Xbox...

New Toast Covers
A Toast to New Toast Covers, Now Covering More Than Tech

Raise your glasses for a toast to New Toast Covers for the...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Jeanie Buss & MGM TV Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women of Wrestling Events

Jeanie Buss and MGM Television Tags AXS TV to Broadcast WOW-Women...

Kevin Belington Faces Martin Nguyen for the ONE FC Interim Bantamweight Title

From ONE FC – 07 June 2018 – Manila, Philippines: The...

Showtime to Air ‘Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller’ Mauro Ranallo Doc on May 25th

From Bellator MMA and Showtime – New York – April 30,...

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...?
Iron Fist Racist
Is Marvel Iron Fist Racist? Part 2- Yeah…

After the casting controversy, two shows, and a guest appearance in Marvel...

Cultural Junkdrawer – Season’s end: The Flash season 4


Adult Continuity Issue #13 – Avengers XXX – A porn parody

I review AvengersXXX and make masturbation jokes. Be smart with your Fapdollar(tm);...

Event News Event Reviews
Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience
AT&T Audience Network Bringing Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience to SDCC

AT&T AUDIENCE Network to Bring ‘Mr. Mercedes Immersive Experience’ and Show...

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018
Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 Lineup Has Big Brands and Big Names

Shout! Factory Anime Expo 2018 lineup includes interactive fan activities, exciting...

Flavors of Youth
Netflix Premiering New Original Anime Flavors of Youth at AX2018

Netflix will host the world premiere screening of their new anime...

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
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...

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...

%d bloggers like this: