Written by Justin D Williams
In Texas, years before the events of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in the early days of the infamous Sawyer family, the youngest child is sentenced to a mental hospital after a suspicious incident leaves the sheriff’s daughter dead. Ten years later, the Sawyer teen kidnaps a young nurse and escapes with three other inmates. Pursued by authorities including the deranged sheriff out to avenge his daughter’s death, Sawyer goes on a violent road trip from hell, molding him into the monster now known as Leatherface.
The Texas Chainsaw franchise has been through so many sequels, reboots, and prequels that claim to be the true origin story that it's now at the point it needs to take a comic book approach and make itself a multiverse. The problem with this franchise is there are so many films that tell the origin story or sequels that claim to take place right after the original movie that continuity and canon is a mess. Unfortunately the new movie Leatherface doesn't help to clear of the canon issues with the series. Leatherface is promoted as the true origin story of Texas Chainsaw franchise and the film is truthfully a mixed bag. The film isn't terrible but not very good either. I will go on record and say that the film is way better than many other Texas Chainsaw films in recent years. However, that really isn't saying much. One thing Leatherface film does get right is focusing on characters and keeping the movie on a much smaller scale. While the title is called Leatherface the character himself you really don't get much of a connection with to his origin story. He kind of takes a backseat to focus on the plot and established the character of his mother Verna played by Lily Taylor. Verna is the show stealer and highlight of the film. She is not given enough screentime but when she is on screen she is sadistic, disturbing and the reason why the Sawyer family is so messed up in the head. Another worthy mention is Stephen Dorff as Hal Hartman. He is a cop driven by vengeance for the loss of his daughter at the hands of Verna and her family. He is a man who would stop at nothing to get his revenge even it means breaking the law. When these two characters are on screen the film feels elevated. It's mostly credited to the actors strong performances and the writing that made you wish the movie just focus more the whole revenge plot against the Sawyers.
Unfortunately, Leatherface's big problem is the tone and overall plot. If you are expecting a horror movie you better look elsewhere. Leatherface is more of an escape film than a horror film. Without going into spoilers the character of Leatherface is broken out of the mental institution and is now on the run from the cops. He has a couple of companions from other patients and a nurse they took hostage. There is a small body count done by the other escapees but nothing terrifying, edge of seat that you expect from this franchise. There is also a plot of who actually is the one who becomes Leatherface element. The character you think is Leatherface might not be him. The reveal didn't feel like a big payoff and felt random which left me unsatisfied. Overall the film is disappointing due to the lack of horror, and turning it into an escape film. The acting was okay and the direction was fine but the story is not what you expect. However, it is the best entry to the franchise in a long time but that is not really saying much.