In Defence of LeatherFace...
Updated: Jul 12
A young nurse is kidnapped by a group of violent teens who escape from a mental hospital and take her on the road trip from hell. Pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge, one of the teens is destined for tragedy and horrors that will destroy his mind, moulding him into a monster named Leatherface.
Directors - Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, Screenplay - Seth M Sherwood, Characters based on Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper.
Stars - Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR LEATHERFACE 2017
I seem to be one of the very few horror fans that really enjoyed Leatherface 2017 and whilst I understand the dismay at how different this movie was to the rest of the franchise, I applaud its audacity to try something new as the 8th film within the Chainsaw Legacy.
On a rewatch, with expectations of a 'Texas Chainsaw prequel' in check, I don't really view it as a prequel, sequel, remake, requel... It almost feels like a kind of parallel universe that, if successful, could even have started its own timeline (despite its connective tissue to 74's original and the awful Texas 3D).
Inside Directors Bustillo and Maury certainly bring their barbaric sense of style to the story with some vicious and dark energy which includes lashings of brutality and a sprinkle of necrophilia.
Another component I enjoyed, which had fans in uproar, was the mystery element - the script does a good job of concealing the identity of LeatherFace, even tricking the audience into believing the wrong character would grow up to be Jed. That might have been a step too far for some folks to handle, but I thought it was a fun trick - and when Jackson finally becomes Leatherface, Eastenders Sam Strike does a great job and we even get a super fun chase scene in the woods.
Following on from (in my opinion the abysmal) 2013's Texas 3D, I felt this brought back the gritty, the dirty, the ugly and the visceral savagery. The direction, cinematography and even acting are all good here - and it's rare to get all these elements in a TCM movie.
LeatherFace 2017 gives me Texas Chainsaw meets The Devil's Rejects vibes (with a little One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest thrown in too) - and following the group of sadistic savages slaughtering any and all that step in their path was a lot of barbaric fun!
This nasty little film is so far removed from feeling like a TCM entry, but it still gave us the house from the original, a viscerally gritty atmosphere and the SAWyer family dynamic which was missing from the 2022 incarnation. It felt respectful to the spirit of the original whilst building something new of its own 40+ years later.
If you haven't seen it, I'd suggest checking it out with an open mind, or if you've seen it once before, go for a rewatch with a different eye.
It's a vicious little Slasher with a high body count - so as a horror fan, it gave me enough to enjoy and revist.
A Review By Craig Fisher - Come FOLLOW ME on Letterboxd as I make my way through the HORRORS OF 2022 - FISHERFILMS82