I’m admittedly not a Texas Chainsaw Massacre guy. I’ve seen the original a few times, the strangely awkward and bad The Next Generation, and the 2003 remake. Though I do remember as a wee lad perusing the video store and seeing a gigantic poster for Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and being terrified. I also really like the fan theory that hypothesizes the family from the original were cops investigating Ed Gein’s house and went bonkers themselves, recreating aspects of the original crimes to anyone who happens to stumble upon the house.
One thing that I’ve never wondered however, was how Leatherface became Leatherface. Does it matter? Is it important to the narrative? Leatherface’s formative years aren’t as crucial to the plot as say, Jason Vorhees or Michael Myers, and even then entire films don’t need to be dedicated to those stories to appreciate why they exist. So it begs the question…does this new Leatherface movie really need to exist? Does it add a new dynamic to the Chainsaw mythos? Nah. But it’s not a bad film.
The Movie Itself (3/5)
After a very Texas Chainsaw opening sequence where we meet the batcrap crazy Sawyer family and a scene designed to explain why Stephen Dorff’s Sheriff Hal Hartman has a hard on for trying to destroy said family, we’re taken to the Gorman House Youth Reformatory some ten years later.
Now, here’s where it’s difficult to break down the plot…because I’m afraid it’ll spoil the remainder of the film and it’s actually a fun ride. In relatively short order, the film begins following Ike, Clarice, Jackson, Bud, and Lizzy…and due to some clever hand waving earlier it’s not clear which one is the titular Leatherface. It’s not going to reinvent the wheel or anything, but I’ve got to give kudos to the writers and directors for taking the approach they did with the film. I will, however, hit on some high (and low) points.
There are several points in the film where it feels like it’s channeling Natural Born Killers and The Devil’s Rejects, though since the latter was derivative of the original Chainsaw anyway, I’m not sure if it was some sort of intentional meta commentary. The diner scene in particular, because of the interactions between Ike and Clarice seem to give off the same vibe Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis. The Firefly family is invoked because while our crew of five hates each other at various points of the film, they all hate the police and value their freedom enough to work together and trust each other at crucial moments.
Leatherface does not come without criticism, however, and a lot of that lies with Stephen Dorff’s character. The idea of a lawman with a vendetta against the Sawyer family isn’t new, nor is the idea of a policeman driven to obsession, but he’s incredibly unlikable throughout the movie. It’s never to the extreme it needs to be. Either he’s the villain of the piece and gets his comeuppance or he’s the hero who ultimately loses. Instead he’s just a dangerous nuisance put into place to move the plot along.
There are several points in the movie that could have been expanded upon and seeing how underutilized Lili Taylor’s Verna Sawyer is feels like a huge missed opportunity, but an argument for less is more could be made, too. The editing was pretty loose, as well. After our protagonists emerge from the guts of a dead cow and are covered in sticky viscera, they emerge in the next scene dry and significantly cleaner than they were two minutes previous. I don’t even notice that kind of stuff very often, but this time it was bad.
Visuals/Picture Quality (4/5)
It looks pretty, and it’s a solid period piece. A few bits of noticeably bad CGI, but almost all CGI looks noticeably bad to me.
Score/Audio Quality (3/5)
If there weren’t subtitles, I wouldn’t have been able to hear half the dialogue. Yes, I could have turned up my soundbar, but I didn’t want to go deaf during the action sequences. There’s a happy medium, Filmmakers! Find it!
Special Features (3/5)
Behind the Bloody Mask: Making Leatherface Featurette
- Alternate Opening
- “The Pit”
- “Trailer Confession”
- Alternate Ending
The special features are a behind the scenes featurette which is just a typical fluff piece with cast and crew interviews. Rounding out the disc are a handful of deleted scenes which include an alternate ending and an option to watch the film with the alternate ending. If you don’t watch a second time, at least check out the alternate ending… I think I prefer it over the actual one.
- Standard Slipcover and Eco Case. UV code is included. Nothing more to see here, move along.
- Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
- English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- English SDH
Runtime 88 Mins
Leatherface Overall (3/5)
I wouldn’t agree that this film is the best since the original, as the slipcover of the Blu-ray so proudly states, but I found myself enjoying the movie a lot more than I expected to. I’m not sure I’d pay the release day price, but it’s certainly worth it on sale.
Leatherface is available from Amazon or other fine retailers.
Note: This Blu Ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.