A young nurse is kidnapped by four violent teens after they escape from a psychiatric hospital, and take her on a road trip to hell. Pursued by an equally deranged, trigger-happy lawman out for revenge, one of these teens is destined for tragedy and horrors that will destroy his mind – moulding him into the monster we now know as Leatherface.
Another prequel/reboot/re-imagining of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Oh dear, yes.
LEATHERFACE was meant to be a sequel to 2013 movie Texas Chainsaw 3D, a film which was met with critical scorn upon release. Eventually the decision was made for the next entry into the TCM franchise to be turned into a prequel that had an interesting hook. It would show fans the loony Leatherface before he was Leatherface.
A bold move considering this character is oddly one of the most beloved in fright cinema history. To see how this huge, monster of a man became an almost infant minded blood thirsty killer is an idea that has a lot of potential. Sadly LEATHERFACE doesn’t fulfil this, it instead makes itself feel as if it isn’t even a Massacre movie.
For the most it has more in common with Badlands, Natural Born Killers or any number of teens on a killing spree flick. A group of mentally disturbed youths, plus a hapless nurse who has been kidnapped, escape from the institute where they are kept and go on the run. The cops end up on their trail although one of them is as nuts as the kids he is chasing. The way the story then tries to shift tone towards the final act to get back to being a Leatherface origins story is jarring and reminds the viewer that LEATHERFACE isn’t really a TCM film.
Take out the mentions to the Sawyer family and the final 20 minutes, substituted for something more relevant to the loons-on-the-loose plot which was actually passable, and this feature would have been more kindly welcomed by the horror community. Without the reputation of Tobe Hooper’s finest creation attached LEATHERFACE may have had less scrutiny placed on it. The young, mainly British cast, are good and the use of practical effects instead of CGI are positives for the movie.
But it doesn’t work as a true Texas entry and it’s ironic that it is this entry that has stopped, for now at least, the franchise. Because LEATHERFACE was delayed in release the producers/studio behind it (Millennium Films and Lionsgate) have lost the rights to make any more Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. The way in which it was released didn’t do any help, either. It was made available via DirecTV first, then VOD in the States. Having made less than $1million it’s a pitiful performance in the history of TCM.
LEATHERFACE was directed and written by the duo of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo. These two are responsible for helping the New Wave French Horror subgenre gain worldwide attention during its 2005-2012 peak. The brutal Inside (2007) put them on the map and they followed up with the disappointing Livid (2011). LEATHERFACE is their first non-French full length feature and as mentioned would have been acceptable minus the use of the Sawyer family and it’s link to such a beloved horror classic.
The DVD comes with a few extras, the most interesting being an alternative ending which this reviewer actually liked over the ending used.