Calling Leatherface an origin story is probably the best way to describe it. And the extremely impressive cast is an unexpected bonus for this story about a horror icon!
It feels like Leatherface has been a long time coming. We’ve known about it for quite some time, and the wait has been excruciating. However, when casting news came, we knew we were in for a treat in that department.
Well, when it came to Lili Taylor and Stephen Dorff, anyway.
I’m not that crazy about Finn Jones of recent Iron Fist fame. I did, however, like him on Game of Thrones, so it’s not all bad.
Anyway, then there are the directors, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, are known for creating some intense horror movies. With those two at the helm, it seemed the movie was in safe hands.
The style of Leatherface is clear from the first scene.
And it’s both reminiscent of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 1974 and the reboot from 2003 (also The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Leatherface is very much in line with the 1974 original in terms of featuring truly depraved characters. And then it has much of the visual style from the 2003 movie. A gritty yet gorgeous visual style that fits the story perfectly.
Who is Leatherface?
The premise of Leatherface is to show the origin story of Jedidiah “Jed” Sawyer since he’s the person, who becomes (and is known as) Leatherface.
And yes, in the 2003 remake, his name was changed to Thomas Hewitt, but let’s not get into that.
While we meet Jed as a child, we then jump several years in time. The next time we meet him, he has a new name and has spent years in a mental hospital.
Or rather, we don’t “meet him” per say. We meet several young men and – since it’s a movie about him – we know one of them is Leatherface.
For the hardcore horror fan, it probably won’t be too difficult to work out. Of course, clues are placed for you to find, but also a lot of red herrings meant to steer you astray.
Personally, I felt the “fake clues” were too obvious, so I didn’t fall for it. But I did enjoy the ride just the same!
Great on paper, entertaining on screen
I don’t want to bash this movie in any way. If anything, I may have expected too much. It’s an origin story and the entire point is to show how Jed Sawyer becomes Leatherface. The movie definitely does this. It just left me wanting more.
The challenge is simply that with Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury directing, I expected something extraordinary. Bustillo and Maury wrote and directed the brilliant Inside (org. title À l’intérieur) ten years earlier in 2007.
It’s crazy, wild and unrelenting. All of which meant it won them the hearts of many horror fans. It was even remade last year.
Of course, they didn’t write the screenplay for this movie and that might explain why it doesn’t feel as much like them.
The screenwriter for Leatherface is Seth M. Sherwood – based on story and characters by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper, of course. This is the first official feature film credit for Seth M. Sherwood (he was uncredited for work on London Has Fallen), so it’s hard to say what his style is otherwise.
What Leatherface definitely does have going for it, is the cast. Everyone does the story justice and that makes the movie a very decent origin story.
And it is most definitely an entertaining ride for its 90 minutes runtime. Even if it is significantly less dark than I would’ve expected.
Leatherface is out in limited US theatrical release and streaming VOD from October 20, 2017.
Director: Julien Maury & Alexandre Bustillo
Cast: Angela Bettis, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Vanessa Grasse, Jessica Madsen, Sam Coleman, Sam Strike, Jay Bloor
A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell, while being pursued by a lawman out for revenge.