Director: Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor & Finn Jones
Rating: 18 Duration: 90 minutes Release date: 8 January (UK)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is an odd one indeed. Beginning with a film that bottled lightning with its raw terror and unhinged psychopathic family determined to fuck shit up, it seems odd to think that this series is now on its eighth instalment. After multiple sequels and attempts at rebooting the series, we are back to where it started, well almost anyway.
Leatherface is the prequel that nobody wanted. If you were one of those who liked Texas Chainsaw 3D, then you really only have yourselves to blame here. Acting as a prequel to the 1974 original, Leatherface sets up the demented Sawyer family and young Leatherface’s rise to becoming the chainsaw wielding maniac we all know and love. The film begins with the Sawyer family needlessly torturing some poor soul who they have accused of stealing from them, and as in all family rituals, the Sawyer’s expect their youngest to take a chainsaw to the man who has apparently stolen from their farm. Personally, I’ve seen some weird shit in my time, both on screen and in real life and I’ve been involved in some rites of passage that shouldn’t be commented on here, but no one has ever offered me a chainsaw at the family dinner table.
I digress though. Leatherface, for what it’s worth, is a horror film that will, I’m sure, please fans of the series – I mean, if you’ve come this far then standards aren’t really that high now. It has plenty of gore, to the point where it does become excessive even for aficionados. Scares are relatively thin on the ground and the bleak tension of the original is undercut by a desire to tell a story that really doesn’t need to be told. What horror films, and reboots in particular, seem to forget is that the story of the villain is not what drives the story, rather it’s the ability to create a cast of characters we care for and want to see survive that propels the film. Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees and Freddie Krueger are all icons of the genre, but they work because we know little or nothing about them and to feed their back-story is actually counter productive because the more we know, the less we care. Despite how popular these characters are, it’s not meant to be about them, at least not initially.
I can’t say that Leatherface doesn’t have its moments, because the law of averages dictates it will, and some scenes do entertain. While one probable outcome to the films’ main character is a moment of nicely pulling the rug from under us. It’s just all so utterly pointless and without direction that any bright sparks are nullified and the audience feels like they’ve beaten about the head with a blunt instrument by the time the film ends.