Apart from the undeniable classic that is the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I have never been a huge fan of the series. There is a lot of confusion in the continuity of these movies and, despite tapping significant star power like Dennis Hopper, Mathew McConaughey, and Renée Zellweger, none of the sequels to the original were worth much of anything. Then there were the reboot, its prequel, and a halfway decent sequel that were all ok but didn’t live up to the magic of the original. Now there is Leatherface (2017), and I think it may reinvigorate the franchise.
If you don’t know the story of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this isn’t the place to start. Tto make a long story short, the Sawyer family is a close-knit family of cannibals who preys on unsuspecting victims driving through their abandoned town. One of the family members is a large chainsaw-wielding maniac who uses his victim’s faces to hide his own deformed mug, which earns him the nickname Leatherface. This movie, aptly named after the main character, explores the origins of the man behind the chainsaw.
The movie starts with a young Leatherface (before he was referred to as Leatherface) being remanded to a youth mental hospital with his brother. When a riot starts, the two Sawyer kids steal a car with a couple other patients and grab a nurse for good measure. As the group heads toward Mexico for a fresh start with their prisoner in tow, they are chased by a sadistic sheriff with revenge on his mind.
First of all, this could have been a stand-alone story and it would have been good. It was nothing inventive, but that didn’t stop it from being a swift-moving thriller that kept your attention with a perfect mixture of action and suspense. In fact, I think that if it wasn’t for the gore, this movie would appeal to a wide audience. What stood out to me the most was that there wasn’t a scene that seemed out of place. Every single death happened in a linear manner that drove the story forward. The story behind Leatherface’s deformation and subsequent mask wearing is perfect, in my opinion.
While this movie did not go to the theaters, it was far from a SyFy movie in terms of production quality. They scored Stephen Dorff – who I think is incredibly overrated, but that is neither here nor there – Finn Jones from Netflix’s Iron Fist, Lili Taylor, and a cast of young actors who have some bright futures in front of them. The acting was backed up by some great effects and makeup that further proved that there was a decent budget behind this film.
This newest entry into the Texas Chainsaw Universe is a prequel to the prequel, or maybe what should have been the true prequel to the original. Either way, this movie is pretty great. Whether you are a fan of the franchise or not, I would mark this one down as a must see. I think that if the late, great, Tobe Hooper had a chance to see this movie, he finally would have been proud with what they did with one of his best works.