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[Review] ‘Leatherface’ Fails By Proving the Saw is Family

[Review] ‘Leatherface’ Fails By Proving the Saw is Family

In Leatherface, the latest prequel in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, French filmmakers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury take us back to the earlier years of the Sawyer family, where Verna Sawyer (Lili Taylor) is living happily with her inbred children. They’re bad, you see, and hurt people for absolutely no reason. Three of the boys murder a young girl, who ends up being Texas Ranger Hal Hartman’s (Stephen Dorff) daughter. With his daughter taken from him, he uses the criminal system to commit all of her boys and take them away from her. 10 years later, several inmates escape, leaving a bloody path in their wake as police try and chase them down. Spoilers follow.

Leatherface is an incredibly confused coming-of-age story of the title character that loses much of its potency in telling the story from the perspective of the killers. It’s oddly reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers only lacking any sort of social commentary as these kids blow the head off an innocent waitress and fuck atop of a corpse. It’s mean-spirited in a way that’s counter productive, feeling more like a desperate attempt to cram the original Texas Chainsaw vibe into an art film that’s only connection to the original franchise is the name “Sawyer”.

It only becomes a Texas Chainsaw film in the final moments of the third act when our final girl ends up back in the Sawyer house and our coming-of-age story comes full circle, giving birth to the iconic chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. The film feels caught in the crossfire of various reboots and pre-makes, landing somewhere between Rob Zombie’s god-awful Halloween and Platinum Dunes’ remakes of both Friday the 13th and (ironically) Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While fans complained about how Leatherface got his chainsaw in the 2003 incarnation, the filmmakers here make an entire movie literally about how he becomes so connected to the saw, and his family. It’s a phenomenal idea, in theory, only it lands awkwardly in the same place as Rob Zombie’s Halloween (by giving too much character to Michael Myers). Horror fans never really wondered why Leatherface was the way he was, and it’s always been pretty clear that he’s just a pawn in the fucked up Sawyer family tree.

With this prequel, writer Seth M. Sherwood spends too much time trying to trick the audience into thinking Bud (Sam Coleman) is going to become Leatherface. Not only does it become a constant distraction, but it’s insanely obvious he’s not. In fact, it’s one of the worst red herrings in recent memory.

The icing on the cake is how fucking good this movie is when Bustillo and Maury get to play in the real Texas Chainsaw Massacre sandbox. It has moments of greatness leading up to the finale that feels like it really should have been the opening to the story, instead of its closing. Leatherface feels like a huge missed opportunity cut up by overthinking something that’s always been as simple as the saying, “Saw is family.”

Leatherface screened at the FrightFest in London. It’s now on DirecTV with a limited theatrical run and full VOD release through Lionsgate revved up for October 20, 2017.



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COMMENTS

71 Comments
  • Unfortunately another movie that I really want to watch but won’t be released in Portugal 🙁

  • Shinobi

    That’s pretty disappointing to read.

  • Dannyll Kaanan

    Hmm interesting but I’ll see it still, everyone has different opinions cause I loved rob zombies Halloween.

    • The chicken man

      Me too. I love it more than most of the actual sequels.

    • Hardcore F’n Mudd

      Have watched it every Halloween season for ten years now! (wow it was scary typing that – ten years!!)

  • Flu-Like Symptoms

    I’m planning to check it out, but not at all surprised by this review. This had all the makings of a shitbomb. It’s production chronicles reminded me a lot of TCM4, though I can’t imagine anything being that shitty. Surely it’s at least better than that.

    • MODOK

      And hey, since when has a direct-to-VOD movie ever been bad?

    • Francisco Gomes

      None of these washed up requels or whatever you want to call them is better than TCM4. These movies just feel out of place and out of time. They’re just not needed.. The story is told already and Leatherface died in TCM2. At least TCM4 felt raw and crude, had some great performances and didn’t mess with the original’s canon and continuity, which just pisses me off

  • Briand

    Too bad. I have to see it for myself, but the story just seems lame.
    I mean, you could probably have this story fit in a flashback, or intro? Instead of the whole film.
    I’d rather It take place shortly after the original. I just want see full on leatherface. I don’t really give a shit about what happens before.

  • Laura Kinney (X-23)

    Meh, to each their own. Me?! I can’t fucking wait to see it!!

    • BooMstick Critique

      Even this review gave it three stars which means its at least descent.

      • Laura Kinney (X-23)

        It was very good until about the last quarter, then everything feels very uneven.

  • Christian

    The review comes across as mostly ”it’s a miss” yet the movie gets a 3/5?

  • Cameron

    Leatherface had his chainsaw the entirety of the 2003 remake, did you by chance mean the 2006 prequel?

    • kreddyfrueger

      Silly @disqus_9bBlWGuM93:disqus , Brad no do research

  • Damn. No one can seem to agree if this is one of the best Texas Chainsaw films, one of the worst, or just “meh”. This film is clearly divisive.

    • Bart Crowe

      I’m going to say it ain’t going to replace the original and the first sequel as one of the best TCM movies. I am also going to guess it is way better than Next Generation but anything is better than that travesty.

    • Probably on par with Next Generation for me :

      • I highly, highly, highly doubt it will be THAT bad. The Next Generation was a complete and utter trainwreck, and probably one of the worst movies ever made. We will probably never see another TCM film as bad as that.

        • Just my honest placement among all the TCM films. Thing is, it doesn’t really feel much like a TCM film, but it has a shined up version of the Devil’s Rejects vibe going on, so there might be something to be had in that!

          • It could just be that I personally rank The Next Generation really, really low. As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of that film, lol

            https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*pCI_6ggPnbel1G6CUEiS-g.png

          • Haha, however why 😉

          • Francisco Gomes

            The Next Generation gets all this bad rep, but I’d sooner watch that than any of these post-2003 remake (which was good) shitstains on the franchise. Hell I like TCM4 better than 3… Great performance by Matt McConaughey and the movie is totally nuts, as it should bê. It just doesn’t pull any punches and I admire it for that

          • I’d say it was more dull than The Beginning and, as a film, it was awful. It tried to be funny, but the vast majority of the comedy didn’t work for me. There wasn’t even any good gore or kills. Matthew McCounaughey is the only character that came across remotely fun and delightfully insane, but he wasn’t enough to carry the film alone. And with the dumb “the family worked for the Illuminatti the entire time!” reveal, they really should have just released this film as a parody than a genuine Texas Chainsaw film. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this was filmed as such, but then released as a TCM film to increase public interest.

            Now, Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2… I think that is an example of how to do the horror-comedy thing correctly.

            https://static.comicvine.com/uploads/square_medium/8/89742/2641361-texas_chainsaw_massacre_2_poster.jpg

          • Francisco Gomes

            You’ve got a lot of good points there. I mean, it is a very flawed and sometimes misguided movie, but it just “feels” like part of the franchise and I would put it above 3, which was just generic and cut to pieces by the MPAA. I had forgotten about The Beginning, which is okay in its own right, but very forgettable. It’s a million light years behind of 1 & 2 for site, but it doesn’t deserve all this hate and to be put below this trash (TC 3D and Leatherface). What I’m saying is TCM 4 had heart and soul, despite all its flaws and that instantly makes it better for me

    • BooMstick Critique

      Its got the best imdb score of every chainsaw film after the original.I think thats enough to say its at least good.Its splitting some people because they missed the standard Texas chainsaw formula from the others.For me honestly after 6 movies of a family killing teenagers I welcome something else.This is easily the best thing this franchise has had since the remake

  • Jay Bennett

    Shame to hear that, I’ll still see, this just lowers my expectations even further.

  • Shawn Caution

    I’ve watched the film twice and in no way did you KNOW BUD was not gonna be Leatherface. Every inch of the character was hinting towards being Leatherface. My girlfriend made the analogy that ‘Jackson’ isn’t really Verna’s son and Bud was really her son that was killed and a sequel could happen that Bud comes back and kills Jackson to become Leatherface. I’m confused as to what you WANT out of a teenage version of Leatherface leading up to getting the chainsaw..him killing animals and just massacring people with no moral, no story…makes no fucking sense. We obviously didn’t watch the same movie. This review was quickly written with poor reasoning to just say it was bad when it wasn’t that bad…Yes, it was slow during the getaway but the execution of bud to the car crash was perfectly done. 2003 Remake was a remake of the original..why wouldn’t he already have his chainsaw…? lmao wtf…christ. How can you review movies..?

  • Demented Daniel

    I’ll probably just rent it in a few months anyway. I’m in no rush to see it.

  • Rohan

    Hey, not to nitpick on your review, but can you please not put a picture of one of the main characters getting their brains blown out? Thank you.

    • enemy

      Why put spoilers in a review?

  • Luke Jonavic

    Considering I love the Texas remake, the Friday reboot (it’s not a remake by any means) and Halloween’s reboot being amusing – I’ll have to say that I am looking forward to this. Thank god I stopped reading after the bashing of the Platinum Dunes movies because apparently there are a ton of spoilers.

    Let’s respect people and try not to explain SERIOUS PLOT DEVICES in your future reviews otherwise what’s the point of even reading these anymore.

  • Stogie Jones

    I knew Bud isn’t Leatherface because I read the script in April, when it looked like this film would never be seen. I loved the script. Brad bashes this movie, then gives it 3/5, Which means he likes it more than not.

  • Matty Ice 2016

    The nail has been driven into the coffin. This franchise is toast. Thank God.

    • Stogie Jones

      If Next Generation didn’t do it, this one didn’t.

    • BooMstick Critique

      I doubt it especially considering this movie is getting mostly positive reviews every were else on the internet lol.It has the best imdb score out of every sequel.

  • Micah Unice

    Ugh. You’re right; those are some fucking big spoilers. Wish I’d listened.

  • Blade

    SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW

    It’s honestly not bad. My main issue is that Jackson (Jed) in this film just doesn’t seem like the same character in the original to me. Bud honestly would have been the better person for that. Jackson seemed like a normal guy for the most part then does this complete 180 in the climax. Don’t get me wrong, going through what he did would surely mess you up, but it seemed very quick. I guess it works though because he is apparently bipolar.

    Idk, I liked it for the most part just a few nitpicks I guess.

    • BooMstick Critique

      Its in no way bad this review is way to harsh.The film has a good score on rotten tomatoes an has the best score of any of the sequels to this franchise on imdb.

      • Blade

        I didn’t think it was bad either. I kid of wish we spent a little less time on the road and more time in a traditional TCM environment like the house but overall I enjoyed it. I think it was a step in the right direction when compared to 3D.

        • BooMstick Critique

          Its getting mixed review but is still getting the best since the remake.Its getting more positive then negative.This franchise is out of steam as it is an should prolly stop after this one.Unless they let these same directors do the next one.I wouldnt mind that.Whats funny is this gets a limited release but gets mostly good reviews.3d gets a big release an every one hates it.

    • Jeremy O’Dwyer

      Agreed. He goes from ‘troubled’ and the main girl being sympathetic to him to ‘full on lunatic’ and the main girl calling him a psycho in about 10 seconds.
      Thought it was pretty decent as well. Just maybe not a great Texas Chainsaw origin story.

  • dukeblues

    Spoiler
    Bloody Disgusting inadvertently spoiled the surprise months ago when they showed the picture above with the fat kid getting his head blown off. So it was kinda obvious he wasn’t leatherface at that point.

    • Rohan

      Lol, I hadn’t seen that. I was looking at the review, and it said ‘spoilers below’, so I was like ‘okay I’ll stop reading here and look down at the skulls. I scroll down and see the photo of one of the main kids getting their brains blown out, the one that most people thought was gonna be Leatherface going in. Just maybe, in the future, they should keep their spoilers in the text and not in the photos. That would be like me saying in a review of empire strikes back saying ‘spoilers below’ and then showing a gif of Vader saying ‘I am your father’ and Luke screaming.

  • turk

    This is actually about the most positive review I’ve seen of this film, which makes me wary. One review I saw called it the worst TCM movie yet, which is low praise indeed assuming the reviewer had seen “Next Generation”. But, I’ll watch it nonetheless. I never have high hopes for these prequel things, though.

    • Stogie Jones

      You aren’t looking at all then. Its getting 67% on Rotten Tomatoes. IMDB it gets 6.4/10. So you aren’t checking at all.

      • turk

        I was going by the reviews I read. But next time, I’ll get my crack team of researchers on it…

      • F. This

        5.5 on IMDB now. Oddly on the browser RT has it at an 86% then when you go into the page it has the figure you gave.

    • BooMstick Critique

      No the movie is getting mostly positive reactions.

  • Matheus Martins

    Escape From Cannibal Farm is more Texas chainsaw Massacre than this thing.

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  • MAGLAVERAS VASILIOS

    I live in Greece and this film is opening today in my town and i’m going to see it dressed like LEATHERFACE with the mask and all and of course I will get my ticket and place in the theater using my BRAND NEW ELECTRONIC BLOODY CHAINSAW……………LOL

  • Derek

    Texas Chainsaw used to be one of my favorite franchises but I just feel overexposed with all these awful remakes/ reboots/ sequels/ prequels. Enough already.

  • r_jovinski

    I liked it. It’s much better than TCM3D and the Next Generation.

  • Francesco Falciani

    3 stars are too much for this movie…

  • MrX13

    I still can’t wait to see this new movie, it looks good

  • This feels like it was made in 2009, you know, the year where lots of
    backwoods/hillbilly, um, ‘classics’ like “Albino Farm”, “Staunton Hill”
    or the unwatchable “Wrong Turn 3” were released.

    I’m a huge fan
    of directors Maury & Bustillo, love all of their films, I adore
    “Inside” and “Livid”, and, yes, love even the mismarketed and slightly
    misunderstood “Among the Living”, as well as their segment for “ABCs of
    Death 2”.

    But this is trash. Beautifully filmed trash – but still
    trash. A couple of neat kills, 1-2 emotional moments, good acting from
    Dorff. As for the rest: dull, boring, trite, unbelievably cliché-ridden,
    pretty much all characters are completely unlikable, at times it feels
    like a burnt-out Rob Zombie made a lowest-budget remake of “Among the
    Living” and “Natural Born Killers”, at times it felt like it was
    produced by the WWE Studios (yes, it’s that bad).

    At NO FUCKING
    TIME it actually feels like a TCM flick. Okay, it’s obviously better
    than “Texas Chainsaw 3D”, but even that one felt more like it actually
    belongs to the TCM franchise.

    Oh, and the ending is a joke.

    You can say about “TCM: The Beginning” whatever the hell you want, but in terms of prequels it is sooo much better than this.

    Shame on you, Maury & Bustillo. All the re-shoots in the world couldn’t save this nonsense. 3/10

    • BooMstick Critique

      Personally totally dis agree.This franchise has suffered very bad from doing hte same thing over an over.I would rather have this film doing something different with this brand then 3d which was a watered down mtv chainsaw movie.I dont get the complaint you have about the characters being un likable.The majority of Texas Chainsaw massacre movies all have un likable douche bag characters.This movie was meant to be about scum bags all doing scum bag things.I dont think that should be a complaint.

    • turk

      How was “Among the Living” not marketed properly? Admittedly, I don’t know French, but the trailers seemed to match the movie fairly well. Other than the whole abortion thing kind of tacked on, it was a fairly standard (although enjoyable) slasher. And that’s what I expected going in.

  • Gregory

    I’m not sure why you say it’s obvious that it won’t be Bud…never for a second did I think it would be anyone else. I thought it was made clear that we were supposed to think it was Bud all along.

  • jonvon

    I dont know what people expect out of a horror/slasher movie. I’ve watched this twice now and loved every minute of it. everyone is just a bunch of movie snobs. Great kills, they had fun with the mythology. (which I thought was way better then it was explained before)

    TCM is about fucked up people doing fucked up things. And this movie nails it. I hope for a squeal starting right from where this left off.

  • Tristan Miller

    I randomly watched this yesterday and came away enjoying it way more than I thought I would. Honestly I found it quite heartbreaking, especially in the final act. I liked the setting, the cast and just enough gore where it wasn’t necessarily splatter but just enough to bitch slap you every now and again.

  • gjk2012 .

    This was good. I might get this on blu-ray when it comes out.

    • James

      Thank for spoiling the outcome…

      • gjk2012 .

        I suggest not reading comments in the future then if you haven’t watched the movies ahead of time.

  • Glitchiee Glitch

    GOOD FUCKING JOB with the pictures straight up spoiling some of the movie lol …..
    the movie sucked ass btw
    oh and before you say blah blah it says spoilers follow.. PUT THAT IN THE HEADLINE lol

  • Keith Yambert

    This was a pretty cool crime movie, but I just wish the need to humanize the original killers would go away! I like my psychos to come with no baggage! Kill for killing’s sake. Everyone from Leatherface to Jason has been given the “bullied” treatment!

  • GXFR4LIFE

    I really enjoyed this movie was way better then excepted better then most horror films this year it’s devils rejects mixed with a little of mice and men.

    • Evan3

      given your horrendous avatar, dubious spelling, and affinity for Rob Zombie, I think I’ll trust Brad over you.

      • GXFR4LIFE

        Know what the avatar is before u say shit. It’s from a rapper from buffalo named Westside Gunn who is black he uses it against stupid racists

  • Evan3

    I’ll never understand how the hell they dragged Lili Taylor into this.

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