September 20, 2017 Leatherface (Movie Review)
Forty-three years since the original incarnation of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, released on October 1st, 1974, a young Leatherface is back in a self-titled prequel written by Seth M. Sherwood. From the origins of the original story, Leatherface depicts the creation of the madman within while packing violent, gory imagery along with plot twists galore that will leave any true Horror fan crying and laughing simultaneously upon its end.
Exclusively being shown on DIRECTV September 21, 2017 and in Theaters and On Demand October 20, 2017 via Lionsgate, this hour and a half long Horror/Thriller takes the viewer back to the start. Directed by Julien Maury (Livid 2011, Among the Living 2014) and Alexandre Bustillo (Inside 2007, ABCs of Death 2 2014), from a screenplay written by Seth M. Sherwood (The World of Cory and Sid series), it all begins following the childhood of young Jackson Sawyer.
The unfortunate soul that would later become a mass murder, Jackson is exposed to the murderous cannibalistic ways of his family members including older brother and very manipulative mother Verna Sawyer portrayed by a very convincing Lili Taylor (Mystic Pizza 1988, The Conjuring 2013). Her powerful performance driven by pure love twisted into evil fed the beast within the core of the gore-filled film as she used all her determination to keep her family together despite constant meddling from the local Texas Ranger named Hal Hartman played by Stephen Dorff (The Gate 1987, Blade 1998).
As the staves of all Horror movie plots thicken, the blood pours in steady streams and the violent deaths accumulate and accelerate in magnitude. Due to the legendary characteristics of Leatherface, the chainsaw prop and weapon is actually used sparingly throughout the film. That said, the progression from the character of Jackson, played by Sam Strike (M.I. High series, EastEnders series), from beginning to end exemplifies appropriately the slow downward journey that follows his path to the dark side into a full-blown skin-masked Leatherface with no more room for love in his heart.
The journey starts where Jackson, among other known children of convict parents, are taken to a home which is basically a mental institution. Unfortunately, it is run by a corrupt man (Christopher Adamson: Les Misérables 1998, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 2006) who believes in lobotomies and other torturous methods to keep the children behaved. A fresh new hire, attractive young nurse (Simona Williams: Trespass 2011, Drive Angry 2011), then comes along to join the team just before all hell breaks loose as Verna Sawyer goes above and beyond the call of duty to rescue her son and bring him home.
From here, there are some great plot twists and a stellar performance from the one true-hearted unfortunate character Bud (Sam Coleman: Game of Thrones series), who is a mental patient that barely speaks and seems to suffer from mental handicaps that were perhaps induced behind the doors of the correctional institution. Once all hell breaks loose, the patients escape and kidnap the new nurse as they plan to flee to Mexico but meet too many twists and turns along the horrific adventure for all of them to make it out alive. Of course teenage Jackson does eventually reunite with his evil-hearted mother and that is the beginning of the climax that sets the great action-packed blood bath ending in motion.
With a touch of 1975’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest mixed with violent gore exploitations found in the Friday The 13th films, the modern technology used in Leatherface is very accurately thrown into the audience’s face. Of course, this is with exception of one unrealistic gunshot wound to the leg where the victim still walks on it. Otherwise, the production team used some top notch murder tactics that culminate in a hugely funny, cringe-worthy ending that leaves the viewer satisfied and looking forward to the creation of a follow-up film.
In addition, one of the greatest charms of Leatherface is the song played at the end, which basically talks about a break up and repeats the lyrics “it’s over” in the chorus which has a few hidden connotations from within the plot to enjoy. Overall, this new prequel is very direct in its mission and does not disappoint in terms of unrealistic or cheese factor in the shallowness of its characters as some Horror films do. There is a bond and an emotion reached with all characters. Yet, it is served to the audience in such a way that it never becomes too emotionally painful when a favored character dies, no matter how physically violent it is portrayed on the big screen.
In terms of comparing Leatherface to other The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, it really should just be taken for what it is – an interesting version of the perils of the childhood of a legendary killer and should be taken at face value. Horror films today suffer the challenge of an original plot as so many scenarios have been done time and time again. That in mind, for a new Horror movie to still be compelling, despite obvious classic methods incorporated, Leatherface must be commended as a well-crafted film succeeding with cinematography as well as its gore tactics and plot twists. Therefore, CrypticRock gives Leatherface a 4.5 out of 5 stars.