LEATHERFACE (2017) Reviews and overview

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‘Witness the beginning of your end’

Leatherface is a 2017 American horror feature film directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (Inside; Livid; Among the Living) from a screenplay by Seth M. Sherwood (Black Mass) for Millennium Films. Carl Mazzocone produced. Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel were both executive producers.

The film is a prequel to the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and chronicles events in Jackson’s (Sam Strike) teen years, revealing how he became the infamous Leatherface.


Violent teenager Jackson escapes from a mental hospital with fellow inmates Bud (Sam Coleman), Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice (Jessica Madsen).


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The group kidnaps nurse Lizzy (Vanessa Grasse) in their escape. As the group flees with their captive, they are pursued by Hal Hartman (Stephen Dorff), a vengeful and determined Texas Ranger…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“Yes, Leatherface is messy, but that’s only to be expected from this series and Bustillo and Maury manage to make that feel like part of the film’s DNA. There’s no way this iconic killer was ever going to be born of something that wasn’t a bit wildly macabre. The fact that the film also manages to make the Sawyers skin crawling again is another victory for this effective origin story.” Bloody Disgusting

“Horror films today suffer the challenge of an original plot as so many scenarios have been done time and time again. That in mind, for a new horror movie to still be compelling, despite obvious classic methods incorporated, Leatherface must be commended as a well-crafted film succeeding with cinematography as well as its gore tactics and plot twists.” Cryptic Rock

“A production line effort with an eye on cash flow rather than the demented work of art Hooper loosed on the world, this eighth entry is above average for its attenuated series. Gore levels are as high as expected and, naturally, the finale leaves things open for further instalments.” Screen Daily

” …my biggest grievance with the film is what happens in its third act, and it’s not a discussion to be had without major spoilers. But let’s just say that the route Leatherface takes in the end feels wildly unnecessary and completely out of line with everything we know about the titular character, and that’s precisely when I felt like the film totally derails itself.” Daily Dead

” …while Leatherface delivers the gruey goods, it’s missing the mind-twisting terror that keeps the original effective over 40 years on (with a lot less red stuff on display).” Electric Shadows

“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 over-thinking something…” Bloody Disgusting

“It’s all ultimately a bit of a disappointment and a wasted opportunity, but the ever-excellent Lili Taylor, and a bonkers Stephen Dorff keep things just afloat with plenty of snarling and scenery chewing. The teenage road trip parts’ dirty and sweaty atmosphere is good, but its passengers actions are pointless…” Live for Films

“Dull is not a word you’d want to use to describe any horror movie, and I’m sure Maury and Bustillo were not aiming to make a film that feels uninspired. But that’s what we’ve ended up with: a film that feels like just another Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie – there’s none of the expected flair that the directors brought to their previous productions…” Nerdly

Leatherface is a good, enjoyable horror film. The diner set piece, in particular, has the dark wit and energy of Tarantino, and the whole misdirect for much of the second act is best enjoyed on the screen and not spoiled in a review. However, it hard not to ignore some of the more obtuse creative choices that were made.” BritFlicks

“It’s shot well, gory as hell, and features several great performances. This is the movie Texas Chainsaw fans have been waiting for. It’s the real deal.” Horror Society

“It certainly has its moments and those disturbed by gore should still approach it with caution, but it’s nothing like as gratuitous as much of what has gone before. Events happen to serve the story more than the theme. Horror is found in different places. This is a cri de coeur for those betrayed by the promise of the American Dream…”
Eye for Film


“It’s never a dull film at all, moving at a good pace building to an ending that actually works well. It has to be said that for a film that in truth was not needed at all, it holds the attention for the most part and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, as a prequel to a horror classic, it’s not bad overall.” The Film Grump

“Some stories just don’t need telling, and Leatherface is one of them. It’s not that it retcons elements of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre mythology, or that it’s a ‘pointless prequel’ – it’s just an empty movie. You’ll have forgotten you’ve seen it as soon as the credits roll. Prequels, sequels and remakes can all enrich a story and tell it from a new perspective, but Leatherface just doesn’t do that.” Flickering Myth

“If Leatherface doesn’t plumb the true depths of cinematic insanity that the first Chainsaw did, it at least achieves the similar goal of making rural Texas seem like a place you’d never want to visit; a few moments, like Jed wearing a large dead cow’s head, do get at the original’s near-surreal sense of derangement.” Rue Morgue

“Overall, Leatherface is an uninspired prequel that won’t silence any critics of the already-tired series. Fans may live in hope that if they continue to churn out additional entries in the franchise, Tobe Hooper will make a long-awaited return to the director’s chair. Otherwise, it looks like Leatherface is quickly heading to the slaughterhouse.” The Hollywood News

“There’s a chainsaw, a backwards family (given a much greater presence thanks to a killer turn from Lili Taylor) and of course the great state of Texas, but despite promising more emotional and psychological depth to one of the genre’s most legendary villains, in the end we don’t really get that much here.” HeyUGuys

 …manages to remain gripping while avoiding the self-referential irony and sexualized torture-p*rn that has dominated much of horror over the last two decades. The climactic chainsaw-wielding bloodbath will surprise nobody, but it has a satisfying splatterpunk energy that Tobe Hooper himself would surely have relished.” The Hollywood Reporter

“On the whole, it’s incredibly generic but innocuous […] It doesn’t compare to the terrifying 1974 masterpiece nor does it profess to but it’s not awful either. There is just something about Leatherface that doesn’t have enough scope to irritate or garner a strong reaction.” Love Horror


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“This Texas Chainsaw ‘origin story’ is a somewhat mixed bag, but it’s also an earnest and well-crafted attempt at franchise course-correction. There’s plenty of graphic violence here, but Leatherface is plot-driven rather than merely kill-driven. But that, too, is a useful re-direction: Nothing is ever going to fully recapture the berserker mood that made Hooper’s original so terrifying…” Variety

“The effect of the film is the same as the deflating effect of explaining a joke; it completely miscalculates the phenomenon of the audience’s original reaction. Ironically, of all the things that are sweatily explained over the course of the film, the reason behind the actual skin mask that is the film’s namesake remains a mystery, reduced to an arbitrary bit of grisly set dressing.” Vulture


MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Main cast:

  • Sam Strike – Stitches
  • Sam Coleman
  • James Bloor
  • Jessica Madsen
  • Angela Bettis
  • Stephen Dorff – BladeFeardotcom; Alone in the Dark
  • Lili Taylor – The Addiction; The HauntingThe Conjuring
  • Nicole Andrews
  • Julian Kostov
  • Simona Williams – Spiders; Raging Sharks; Attack of the Gryphon
  • Vanessa Grasse

Leatherface was released initially on DirecTV on September 21, 2017, and received a full On-Demand release via Lionsgate on October 20, 2017.

A Lionsgate Blu-ray + Digital HD release followed on December 19, 2017. Special features include: Behind the Mask: the Making of Leatherface; six deleted scenes and a play feature with an alternate ending.

In June 2018, the film was released on Netflix.

Film Facts:

The project was originally titled Texas Chainsaw 4.

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