Starring: Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse, Finn Jones, Jessica Madsen, James Bloor
Written By: Seth M. Sherwood
Directed By: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Studio: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
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In the years before “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, the youngest member of the infamous Sawyer family has been sentenced to a mental institution after his involvement in some suspicious affairs involving his family. Tragic events unfold which lead to this young man becoming none other than the cannibalistic murder known only as Leatherface.
It seems that the current trend with classic horror movies is to reexamine them and/or provide more in-depth details in regards to their origins. “Leatherface” takes place before the events of the original “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and tells the untold story of the tragic events that lead to the creation of the monster by the same name. While I don’t believe that I’ve ever hear people clamoring for a true origin story for Leatherface, it is still an interesting concept and a decent addition to the “Texas Chainsaw” lore.
During an unplanned escape from a mental hospital in Texas, four mentally deranged inmates kidnap a nurse and go on a bloody road trip towards the Mexican border. On their tale is Sheriff Hal Hartman (Stephen Dorff) who seeks justice and revenge for the death of his daughter at the hands of the Sawyer clan ten years earlier. Things land full circle as the sheriff returns to the location of his daughter’s death in order to fulfill his wish of vengeance.
While “Leatherface” did a decent enough job of portraying the messed up actions of the inbred Sawyer clan that would eventually lead to Leatherface becoming the terror that he does, at times it really doesn’t make any sense in regards to coherent plot. From the earliest stages of the escape from the hospital to the diner murders to the events leading up to the beginning of the character known as Leatherface, there were a lot of gaps in plot and some cringe-worthy idiotic horror movie stuff going on. Kidnapping nurse Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) made no sense and did nothing to the story other than to provide and innocent bystander that you feel bad for. She’s there more to be a fish out of water and to try to miserably escape every now and then. It’s mentioned that she’s their hostage but not once do the writers act upon that plot point.
At times the movie tries to make you feel empathetic for either the escaped inmates or sheriff Hartman but when it comes down to it, they’re almost as equally awful as one another. The sheriff flat-out murders one of the inmates in cold blood and she didn’t even have anything to do with his daughter’s murder. Even one of his deputies is discovered to be feeding information to the Sawyer family in regards to the location of their missing son who escaped with the inmates. They all kind of deserve what they have coming to them while poor nurse Lizzy, who wanted nothing more than to help them and was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, ends up headless and turned to pig slop.
While most of the characters were unlikable and unrelatable, the events that lead to the actual emergence of Leatherface were, by far the best aspect of the movie. It did take more than three quarters of the movie to lead up to the handful of events that destabilized and dehumanized Leatherface but those events were horrible enough for one to somewhat understand why he becomes the monster that everyone knows and loves. It was definitely worth it though. There is also an alternate ending for “Leatherface” and I’m happy that they didn’t go that route because Leatherface’s transition wouldn’t have been as impactful. Just remember…don’t mess with the Sawyer family.
“Behind the Bloody Mask: Making Leatherface” featurette
DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 Dolby Digital
English, English SDH, Spanish Subtitles
1080p High Definition 16×9 2.35:1
Bottom Line: When focusing on the main character “Leatherface” is a decent prequel that reveals the events leading up the creation of the title character. When focusing on all of the other irrelevant characters, the movie is forgettable.
Running Time: 88 Mins