A horror legend returns to DVD in 2018 as directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo explore the origin story of Leatherface in… well, Leatherface. Written by Seth M. Sherwood, the film serves as a prequel to both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Texas Chainsaw 3D. Although Sherwood ignores other entries in the franchise, he does pepper his script with homages that should serve as nice little Easter Eggs for hardcore fans.
Despite serving as an origin story for the deranged lunatic we’ve all become familiar with, the movie focuses more on the influences of the Christian named Jedidiah that drove the title character to become a murderous fiend that makes masks out of human flesh.
Leatherface follows a group of escaped mental patients and their hostage as they terrorise victims on their psychopathic road trip. They’re not all bad though, Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice (Jessica Madsen) have a definitive Mickey and Mallory vibe going on but Jackson (Sam Strike) is reluctant to go along with their plan and spends most of his time looking out for the captive nurse Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) and fellow inmate Bud (Sam Coleman). Having the law on their tail is bad enough but, unfortunately for the group, Sheriff Hartman (Stephen Dorff) is a vengeful father with no sympathy for any maniacs.
Where’s Leatherface in all this you may ask? Well, although we know Jedidiah went into the institution as a young boy, all the patients have been given different names. He is amongst us and, while it might seem clear who the number one suspect is, there’s some clever twists that will keep you intrigued before the reveal.
The violence is vicious and, though the deaths may not be the most inventive, they’re full of gore. However, they are well-paced enough so that they don’t become dull due to their gratuity. Naturally, the famous chainsaw comes into play more than once with a dash of horror porn that will make you wince. Dorff is excellent as the vindictive Sheriff as Sherwood gives a nod to Dennis Hopper’s character from the fantastically bizarre The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Nothing will ever capture the menace and shock value of Tobe Hooper’s original classic but Leatherface is a strong entry to the franchise and should satiate the bloodlust of horror audiences. The movie takes no prisoners and offers a starting point for newcomers, whilst serving as a prequel that should satisfy fans of the series. As origin stories go, the premise is simple while avoiding the convoluted pitfalls that tend to drag the genre down. An enjoyable slasher that will rekindle your love affair with the Sawyer family.