Just as 2013's CHAINSAW MASSACRE 3D ignored the Michael Bay-produced remake and its prequel, LEATHERFACE attempts to align itself with the original canon. By recreating the original house and featuring the original characters, the film takes place 10-years before the events of Hooper's 1974 film and considers itself to be the official prequel. The prologue takes us back 20 years with a brief depiction of the family being torn apart by authorities. The youngest son, Jed, is institutionalised and committed amongst a ward of violent and murderous lunatics. A decade passes and Jed's mother instigates a riot at the asylum. Jed, along with three other patients and a captive nurse, escapes and embarks on a killing spree across Texas. Jed – who would later become Leatherface – is a heavy-set, mild-mannered and sensitive teenager whose psychological evolution offers the audience a reason why he became one of horror's most infamous boogeymen.
Of all of the instalments (this is the 8th) LEATHERFACE comes closest to expanding on the narrative of the first two films, and while there are fleeting moments of nostalgia peppered throughout the story, there is an overwhelming sense of misunderstanding. Those fundamental components of Hooper's films are missing, such as the underlining humour, the power of suggestion and the twisted social commentaries. They've been replaced with a gratuitous quota of gore and an invidious backstory, which assemble into an far-fetched exaggeration of Hooper's characters.
Directors Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo (Livid, Among the Living) have fashioned a handsome and polished film – without question – but they have created an atmosphere that is at odds with Hoopers films. The bright dusty environment of the original film is ignored in favour of a dark and dampened look, and were this not claiming to be a legitimate exploration of the franchise, it would qualify as a handsome film. The gore is fabulous, the story is twisted, and the violence is relentless... and it would work in any other circumstance.
I found LEATHERFACE to be an arduous watch. New instalments of a popular horror franchise should inspire excitement, but this is a series that continuously underwhelms with the ignorance of over-zealous filmmakers. Hooper made his masterpiece for $300,000 using an organic production design and presented a realistic depiction of horrific circumstances. His film two directed-instalments are far removed from what followed, and only when future filmmakers understand where the horror laid, and what constituted terror, are we ever likely to see another respectable Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie again.