Clatto Reviews: Leatherface


Family entertainment takes on a whole new meaning with Leatherface, the eighth entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Helmed by celebrated horror auteurs Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Inside), the film serves as a prequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original classic, providing an introduction to the Sawyer family of cannibalistic killers and an origins tale for its chainsaw-wielding maniac, Leatherface.

The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Set in the 50’s, Leatherface presents a surprisingly engaging narrative with masterfully crafted set pieces that suck you in immediately. Its guess who is Leatherface story hook is a bit predictable and unnecessary, but doesn’t take away from the film’s drama. The violence and gore isn’t as over-the-top as it has been in other Texas Chainsaw sequels because Leatherface isn’t doing the heavy lifting, but that’s okay because the film’s point is to show us what made him such a monster.

Our only real issues with Leatherface are that the guy who turns out to be the iconic murderer is so much smaller than we have seen before and that Bustillo and Maury’s alternate ending (bonus feature) is a million times better than the conclusion they chose to go with for its final release. That horrific and heartbreaking end finds Leatherface cutting pieces from the face of a living victim he loves for the mask he wears to conceal his deformed face. It’s a truly disturbing image and a perfect end to a story that details the transformation of a hapless boy to troubled youth to love-struck kid to deranged psychopath.


Why Bustillo and Maury couldn’t keep that end is an unfortunate mystery, but one that doesn’t totally sink their efforts. What follows is our spoiler-filled review…

Leatherface kicks off clumsily with Sawyer matriarch Verna gifting tween son Jedidiah with a chainsaw and victim on his birthday as his grandpa and siblings goad him on to kill. It’s an outrageous opening in the ridiculous tradition of Bustillo and Maury’s silly and overrated slasher Inside. Thankfully, it can be dismissed and forwarded without consequence.

Leatherface really begins with Jedidiah luring a Texas Ranger’s daughter to her death at the family barn. He performs the task to indulge his brothers’ blood lust and the act that lands them in a mental asylum, where he’s rehabilitated into a fairly decent 20-year-old renamed Jackson for security reasons. His oafish brother, now named Bud, hasn’t fared as well, making them the George Milton and Lennie Smalls of the institution.

Things go bad for Jackson when his mother tracks them down to unsuccessfully enforce visitation rights and springs forth a riot among the inmates, leading to Jackson and Bud’s escape with love-struck lunatics Ike and Clarice – who celebrate their freedom by slaughtering folks at a diner and having a threesome with a corpse they find at a hideout. Nurse Elizabeth White, abducted by the group during the outbreak, is kept safe by Jackson and Bud – both of whom have bonded with their hot and kindhearted caregiver.

Once on the lam, the group is pursued by Texas Ranger Hartman, vengeful father of the girl murdered by the Sawyer boys in their barn a decade ago. He’s relentless and grateful for the opportunity to avenge his daughter and put the Sawyer boys down.


Stephen Dorff portrays Hartman with all the menacing intensity usually reserved for his roles as villain and pits the lawman against the Sawyer clan with ruthless righteousness and hate. He tracks Clarice down and executes her pointblank when she mocks his deceased daughter during questioning. He fires the shot that disfigures Jackson’s face during a getaway car chase. He holds Jackson and Elizabeth hostage at the Sawyer barn, plotting out his retribution.

Betrayed by his dumb-ass deputy, Hartman’s plan goes awry before he’s ready and Elizabeth meets the Sawyers. Jackson is revealed to be Leatherface as his torn face is stitched together by his mother and held in place with a muzzle. He appears to be a bit traumatized by his ordeal, but knows Hartman is to blame for his newfound torment and, after so many years of inner struggle, submits to the Sawyer way, eviscerating the Ranger with a chainsaw.

Elizabeth escapes only to get caught in the woods where she attempts to remind Jackson of their friendship at the asylum as he looms over her with revved chainsaw.

Leatherface is welcomed addition to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre canon, but as far as we at Clatto are concerned, the most worthy entries since the 1974 original remain Platinum Dunes 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its 2006 prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

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