Leatherface does nothing to add to the mythology of the franchise
As a lover of slasher films, I continue to cling to the idea that someday there might be a renewed interest. With all the supernatural ghosts stories as of late, slasher films would offer a nice change of pace in the horror industry. However, as much as I love this genre of horror, who asked for another Texas Chain Saw Massacre movie? Seeing that Leatherface only further proves that slasher films aren’t ready to be resurrected and that Texas Chain Saw Massacre wasn’t made to be a franchise.
After being sent to an insane asylum, Bud (Sam Coleman) and Jackson (Sam Strike) escape with Lizzy (Venessa Grace) and Ike (James Bloor) who have kidnapped a nurse (Nicole Andrews). The five of them are pursued by a deranged cop (Stephen Dorff) who wants revenge for the murder of his daughter.
Following all Texas Chainsaw movies, Leatherface is violent, gory, and disturbing. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury clearly understand that these movies need that type of stuff. However, they fail to use it effectively. Just like all newer films of this franchise, they use various tactics to attempt to shock you with sexual deviancy or gory bodies without any success. There are moments where the directors desperately want a reaction to the actions portrayed on screen. With all that gore, Leatherface becomes only a vehicle for disgusting gore as everyone, and everything serves only for that purpose.
However, even as a vehicle, it doesn’t seem to be in working conditions. The plot of the film doesn’t evolve in a meaningful way, and the whole journey is but a waste of time. As a movie, there’s not much happening, and our characters never become interesting. The entire second act is but a means to the end, leaving much of the film feeling totally uninspired. This leads the exploration of how Leatherface came to be quite anti-climatic.
To compensate for a thin plot, the prequel forcefully injects “twists” that again, fail to conjure a reaction. At this point, it’s clear that the directors are lost with material they aren’t familiar with. Even as the film draws to a close, it never truly has an idea of what to do or what its existence seems to be. It’s a movie so obsessed with the audience that it comes off rather supererogatory while still feeling empty.
Even when it feels like its over-doing it, it remains a lazy and simplistic take on a classic killer. Bustillo and Maury don’t show their passion for the original throughout the film to that point that I’m not even sure they’ve seen the original. Even if they did, they failed to understand what made it such a terrifying classic. Their inspiration seems to come more from the uninspired remake as its never actually scary.
While the stylish choices keep it from being the worst of the franchise (Texas Chainsaw 3D still holds that spot), Hopper’s documentary-style camera work is the whole reason why the 1974 original is still scary to this day. With Hopper’s directing, it feels like you’re witnessing a real event unfold mostly because it didn’t feel like he was trying to shock or scare us. This is a basic lesson in successful horror film-making that Bustillo and Maury clear didn’t understand. Instead, Leatherface is mostly a modern glossy aesthetic that just doesn’t install a terrified feeling deep within.
Leatherface embodies exactly what’s wrong with slasher films and highlights the reason why they’re dead. It represents cheap cash grabs and rides the coattails of successful franchises good or not. It’s simplistic, lazy, uninspired, and fails to understand the basics of horror movie making. With all the terrific horror films we’ve had this year (It Comes At Night and Get Out), Leatherface feels very much like a horror movie stuck in 2005, a time when horror just wasn’t that great.
Leatherface is currently available on DirectTV and will get a limited release on October 20.