WRITER: Seth M. Sherwood
When one of the Sawyer children ends up murdering the daughter of the local sheriff. He seeks revenge on their entire clan. That includes one of the sons who has escaped from a mental institution. He and several patients have taken a female nurse hostage and are travelling across the country leaving a pile of bodies in their wake. It's now up to the sheriff and his men to bring a stop to their murder spree.
I remember when it was announced way back in late 2014 that Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury had signed on and would be directing the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. I was excited, to say the least. The men had delivered one of the most shocking debuts that I can personally think of when it came to any horror filmmakers with their first film Inside. I would even go so far as to call it a masterpiece and one of the best films to come out of the French Extremity era of horror.
Hearing that they were going to give us their own take on Leatherface. I imagined all the endless possibilities. I also couldn't wait to see how far they would take it with the brutal violence and gore seeing as they don't usually shy away from it if we are going off any of their other movies. I was just hoping that the studio wouldn't interfere here with their vision as there seems to be a lot of that whenever foreign filmmakers come onboard to do American productions.
After watching Leatherface close to a week ago and watching it again this morning. I can't really say that I love this movie. I didn't hate it, yet I didn't love it. Slapping the movie with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre imagery is great, and all and I adore a good origin story, but this feels like the loosest Texas Chainsaw Massacre film to date when it comes to actually delivering on the whole Leatherface title. Being bookended by two scenes that involve a kid and teenager brandishing a chainsaw does not make this a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.
What we have here with this origin story is actually a road trip movie gone awry. The film has a heap of brutal violence, gore and death. The film from the opening scene is steeped in grime, dirt, and blood. This is everything you have come to expect out of a horror movie. Sadly, it's just not what you expect out of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. On the one hand, it's a disappointment. On another, this is utterly original and so far removed from the original seven films that I can't hate on Bustillo and Maury for at least trying to deliver something completely different. I have to hand it to them for at least trying to set themselves apart from the other films.
Looking at the first trailer for the film, I expected a dark descent into madness with this film. The movie plays more like a series of violent and brutal confrontations. If you want mean-spirited, this is the movie for you. I had expected nothing less from the filmmakers. Their vision is dark. All of the violence here is exactly how it should be. It's without remorse. The movie also delivers some other pretty nasty stuff such as necrophilia, rape, and people are eaten alive by animals. The only thing I think left off the table is the cannibalism.
The scene inside the diner is a standout scene that is only ruined by the classic rock soundtrack that plays over it. A scene where mental patients start to brutal murder the patrons. In the trailer, this scene was horrific and played extremely intense. The scene itself while bloody is hindered by the choice in the soundtrack which kills the entire mood. We have a pretty intense car chase sequence, and the final showdown between Verna and Sheriff Hal Hartman is pretty suspenseful. The third act twist that is meant to come as a surprise as to who the identity of who Leatherface is falls flat as it's completely predictable and expected.
The acting in Leatherface is pretty solid. Lili Taylor is excellent as the matriarch of the Sawyer clan. I believe every single word and expression that she delivers. A talented and underrated actress. I thought that Stephen Dorff was fantastic as Hal Hartman the vengeful sheriff. Sam Strike as the young Leatherface is the most sympathetic version of the character. The entire film he spends it torn but the final moments with the mask are great and lastly Vanessa Grasse as our hostage and nurse is also great in the film. I thought her final moment was devastating and ended the movie on an extremely bleak note.
Lastly, will Leatherface scare horror fans? I doubt it. This is not a scary movie. This is all about the gore and brutal violence. I didn't notice one single attempt at any cheap jump scares or quick bursts of loud music to try and make me as an audience scared. I think having Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury on the production, they have gone more for mood and showing the Sawyer clan as outlaws who will kill anyone that tries to disrupt their way of life. This is all about revenge here. You can sense that the two filmmakers of this movie want to give you an experience and not just a run of the mill stalk and slash.
DEATH TOLL: 18
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A child saws into a man's leg.
- A man is hit in the head with a mallet.
- A patient has his head repeatedly stomped on.
- Men are shot in the head and face.
- A woman is decapitated with a chainsaw.
- A woman is shot in the head.
- A patient is thrown out of a window to his death.
- A woman has her head blown off with a shotgun.
- The sheriff is hit in the chest with a chainsaw.
- A doctor has his face repeatedly smashed into a sheet of glass.
- A man is repeatedly punched in the face.
- A woman has a live mouse shoved in her mouth.
- The sheriff has his hands chopped up with a chainsaw.
- A man is repeatedly stabbed and fed to pigs while alive.
- A police officer has his head repeatedly slammed in a car door.
- A nurse has her mouth cut into by a patient.
- A woman makes out with a corpse during sex.
- Two men are stabbed in the throats.
- A woman falls through the floor and has an engine dropped on her.
- A man is made to bite a rock, and his head is stomped on.
- A woman falls face first into a gooey corpse.
- A finger is shoved into a head wound.
- A woman is strangled to death in bed.
- Three people hide inside a dead cow carcass.
As a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, I think fans will be incredibly disappointed. As a blood-soaked road movie, horror fans may walk away from this impressed. I think what works here is the gore, violence, and mood. Bustillo and Maury have crafted a road trip from hell. It's just a pretty big shame that the rest of this movie isn't all that great. At times, the movie becomes dull and feels frantically all over the place. Sadly, not even the cast of decent performances can save this eighth entry in the franchise.