Film Review: Leatherface

Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Leatherface certainly offers the gore viewers may expect. However, the film fails to match the terror of its progenitor.

Young Jed Sawyer is taken away from his deranged family and placed in an institution. Years later, he comes back into contact with the Sawyer clan…

A prequel to Tobe Hooper’s genre seminal The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Leatherface endeavours to tell the story of the title character’s origins. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury seek to capture the shock and gore of the 1974 film. Whilst the film does offer plenty of gore, there is little more to it.

Based on a screenplay by Seth M. Sherwood, Leatherface concentrates on two periods in the antagonist’s life. Firstly, the audience is offered a glimpse into the Sawyer family and Jed’s role in this. The majority of the film, however, concentrates on a teenage Leatherface. The film is an origins story undoubtedly, yet viewers may feel they do not have any more context regarding the character after the film ends. The film works more as a series of events to display violence, than it does as a portrait of a protagonist.

The Sawyer family, the perhaps the most interesting aspect of the earlier films, are given little depth or background. Meanwhile, the film seems to be going through the motions to show the protagonist is deranged. An exploration of the protagonist’s motivations and struggle would have given the film more meaning.

The film is effectively gory, with several sequences attempting to recreate the torture of the original film. Yet for all the gore, Leatherface is never terrifying. The shock may be present, but the terror is lacking. Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor offer the best performances in the film. The gore is well executed by Bustillo and Maury; it is just a shame that Leatherface lacks the fright which would have made the film memorable.

Leatherface is being released on DVD on 8th January 2018.

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