When the trailer for ‘Leatherface’ came out in July, I watched it and it quickly became one of my favourite trailers of the year. It looked like it was going to be the best entry in the series since the original ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’, so you can basically say that I was hyped. Then I managed to get a chance to watch it about a week ago and I put all my expectations away so it wouldn’t affect my viewing experience. After watching it, however, I can say that I was disappointed.
Starring Vanessa Grasse, Stephen Dorff, Sam Strike, Lili Taylor, James Bloor, Jessica Madsen and Finn Jones, ‘Leatherface’ is the eighth entry in the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ series and is a prequel/origin story to 1974’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.
Set years before the original, it follows a teenage Leatherface, who escapes from a mental asylum in Texas with three others. During their escape, they kidnap a young nurse (Vanessa Grasse) and she is taken on a murderous rampage. Pursued by a vengeful lawman (Stephen Dorff), Leatherface starts to shape into the murderous psychopath that he is destined to become, even if it means losing the innocence that is within him.
First of all, there are a couple of positives in this movie, but they don’t save this from being one of the most disappointing movies of the year.
This is a well-shot movie. The cinematography was easily the biggest positive of ‘Leatherface’ as you can tell that they at least put the effort into that. From the darkness of the woods to the beautifully haunting scenery of Texas, the cinematography is quite good.
Some of the performances are also fine. Stephen Dorff easily gave the best performance in ‘Leatherface’ as the vengeful lawman (I can’t even remember the names of the characters here so you’ll just be told the basics). All though he was slightly over-the-top in some scenes, he did a solid job as a broken/violent man and he was interesting to watch.
Everyone else was fine. From Vanessa Grasse as the young nurse who is terrified out of her mind for 80% of the movie, to Lili Taylor as the mother of Leatherface, everyone did put effort into their performances. Even Finn Jones from ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Iron Fist’ was in this movie, which really took me by surprise.
Now, speaking about the performances, I should talk about the negatives. The first negative being the writing.
I don’t like to swear in my reviews very often, but for fuck’s sake, the writing was dreadful. The characters were written as one-dimensional and the only one with actual character development was Leatherface, but don’t get me started on what they do with him. Two of the inmates seemed like they were there just because they were murderous psychopaths just to spur out the anger in Leatherface, nothing more. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to care for the nurse, but her character is nothing more than a victim of kidnapping and nothing happens that makes me want to see her get out of this terrible situation alive. The characters are just written horribly. It’s actually fucked.
But the thing I hated the most about the writing involves a plot twist about the identity of Leatherface. I can’t go into too much detail here since this is a spoiler-free review, but what I can say is that it made me really hate the sudden direction that the movie decided to take and it just made me angry. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good plot twist. But this plot twist was poorly executed and if they went in the direction that I thought they were going, this movie would have been sooooooo much better.
As I said, I hated the direction that this movie took for the series and the character of Leatherface. It could have been executed better compared to what we got and it just leaves you really disappointed.
It isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t good.
I should also talk about the many influences from other horror movies which were inspired by ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. It’s like the directors didn’t really watch any movie in this series, but they watched movies like ‘The Devil’s Rejects’ and thought about making a prequel to ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ from that. I’m just so disappointed with the movie. I really wanted to like it but, argh!!!!
Overall, ‘Leatherface’ is a very disappointing horror movie and isn’t the prequel/origin story that many (including myself) were hoping it would be. Even with good cinematography and decent performances, the dreadful writing and poor direction make ‘Leatherface’ a below-average movie and one that I can’t imagine watching again. I can see some people who would love this movie, but being a massive fan of the brilliant 1974 horror classic, this doesn’t do any justice at all to one of the most terrifying movie villains in history.