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Leatherface (2017) - Movie Review

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Leatherface (2017) - Movie Review

3 stars

In one of the better scenes of Leatherface, a superfluous prequel to Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a young couple comes across what appears to be some sort of rotting animal along a lonely stretch of road.  The girl (Lorina Kamburova) gets out of the truck.  She walks closer to the wounded pile of flesh.  It suddenly stands.  It is a boy and he is wearing the carved out head of a pig as if it were some sort of twisted hat.  He suddenly runs from the road and heads toward the family barn.  The girl follows….

DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!!  You know what happens next. 

Led by Verna Sawyer (Lili Taylor), the film opens with a memorable birthday party for the family’s youngest member.  Jedidiah gets a chainsaw.  And, once again, you already know what he’s expected to do it with.  And in this way, the hotheaded hillbilly horror of the Sawyer family is re-introduced to audiences.  We see them “shine” in their ways early and then again toward the end of the movie.  While younger and less hard of hearing, the family members are still as demented as ever. 

This time, though, an equally psychotic officer of the law, Sherriff Hartman (Stephen Dorff), pursues the family, inflicting more harm than good as he goes about seeking revenge for the murder of his daughter.  With a whole new slew of brutal “kills” in Leatherface, we get to see just how America’s favorite chainsaw-wielding madman came to be.  Throughout this roadside journey, the performances are to be commended. 

But do we really care enough to sit through this rather ordinary origin story?  That’s the question I found myself asking as two mental patients, the childlike Bud (Sam Coleman) and Jackson (San Strike), escape confinement with a sympathetic nurse, Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse), in tow and head for the hills alongside the ultra crazy killing team of Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice (Jessica Madsen), also escapees of the mental hospital. 

You should pick which escapee becomes Leatherface; it’s a bit misleading and that is by design.  That is essentially what the movie boils down to as the group of psychos ultimately makes their way back to where it all begins...on the Sawyer farm.  But first there is a roadside diner that needs some busting up.  If the grizzly dysfunction in the group doesn’t completely churn your innards, then you are in for a rather earnest attempt to ignite even more interest in the ongoing series. 

Co-starring Iron Fist’s Finn Jones, Leatherface was shot in Bulgaria but even the BBQ looks to pass Texas state standards.  The appearance of the locations and the ambiance is definitely the same to what we’ve seen previously.  French directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (Inside) provide a few noteworthy strokes to the grizzly shenanigans but, honestly, the film is a bit too routine in its unnecessary excursion.  And it loses much of its steam relatively quickly.  We just don’t have much of a reason to care about anything that we see on the screen.

Leatherface, while sincere in its attempt to feel essential, is simply not mandatory viewing.  The chainsaw’s carburetor might be clogged…

Leatherface (2017) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality/nudity.
90 mins
: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Seth M. Sherwood
Finn Jones, Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor
: Horror
A chilling blend of American Graffiti and Psycho.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Keeping them here is safer for everyone."
Lionsgate Premier
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 20, 2017 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: The film chronicle events in Jackson's (Sam Strike) teen years, revealing how he became the infamous Leatherface. Violent teenager Jackson escapes from a mental hospital with fellow inmates Bud (Sam Coleman), Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice (Jessica Madsen). The group kidnaps nurse Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) in their escape. As the group flees with their captive, they are pursued by Hal Hartman (Stephen Dorff), a vengeful and determined Texas Ranger.

No details available.

Leatherface (2017) - Movie Review

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