Leatherface (2017)


“You messed with the wrong family.”


Leatherface is a prequel to the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and the lacklustre CGI-fest Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) starring Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor that offers up an origin story for the titular character.

The film starts with what can be assumed is not an unusual birthday in the Sawyer household for the youngest child complete with cake, hostages and murder.

The film moves on and we see the Sawyers tricking and killing a young girl who happens to be Sheriff Hartman’s (Stephen Dorff) daughter. This causes him to have the youngest child, Jedidiah, taken away and committed.

Years later we find the matriarch of the Sawyers (Lili Taylor) attempting to gain visitation rights at the mental institute only to be denied by the doctor running the institution, so, desperate she tries to sneak off to find her son inadvertently causing a riot leading to the escape of several patients that promptly take hostages including one of the institutes nurses.

It’s her first day as well.

Sheriff Hartman, who over the years has developed a very deep-seated hatred for all of these young patients especially one called Jackson who he knows is part of the escapees is leading the chase for them, wanting revenge for the murder of his daughter and all bar the nurse are fully aware of this.

Given how sanitised Texas CGI… I mean 3D was, I had low hopes for this prequel. Would they once again go for the cheap special effects and boring story or would they attempt to do the original some justice?

Either way this is going to be mostly forgettable.

The practical effects here are very well made and helped along with their effectiveness by the fact this is a very well made horror film. It manages to create enough of a tense atmosphere when needed, having you wonder if they are going to do and show what they are leading up to and hoping they will thanks to the above combination.

The 1974 original certainly shocked audiences with not only the action but the story yet here it feels like they are trying too hard to shock you with some of the more extreme scenes put in causing them to lose their effectiveness.
That said they still make for a good watch in the context of the film and are certainly some of the most graphic I’ve seen in a modern horror from America for a while.

The cast are good and do a good enough job with Dorff and Taylor showing their quality here and everyone does have enough to work with story and effects wise. People can react to coloured corn syrup far more convincingly than green screen.

Overall very good all round. It doesn’t bog itself down trying to do too much with the story or with extraneous subplots i.e. on the more romantic side which scores points from me on that alone but problems with the story is that for most of the film it didn’t feel like I was watching Leatherfaces origin.
It almost seemed to have forgotten that this was telling his history to the point I had to check that I hadn’t accidentally put the wrong film on.

When it did get round to it it was sudden though adequate enough but the problem is the change seemed too quick and extreme.
We know how Leatherface is from over 40 years worth of films. Despite the different interpretations over the years he still shares similar qualities that here needed to be reconciled in such a short amount of time and to be honest he has to change personality far too much in order to achieve this.

Very bloody and gory that takes you back to the 80s, and whilst this is largely forgettable, I would recommend this and it is a massive step up not just from Texas CGI but for low budget independent horrors.
If more were like this I wouldn’t complain about modern horrors so much.