In 1974 Tobe Hooper directed a bloody masterpiece. Leatherface (2017) is an abomination in comparison.
The French duo of directors behind Leatherface (2017) – Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo – are two obviously ardent fans of Tobe Hooper’s original gorefest. But watching their half-baked bastard of the original, I’m not sure either fully understood the bliss of it.
Hooper’s film was an absurd study of an inbred disaster of a family. It was visceral, palpably graphic, as well as bizarre and ultimately – scary. And while time tested its ability to scare, be cause what scared audiences in the 70s, not necessarily does so today, it’s still a great movie. Leatherface (2017), on the other hand, visits the killer’s roots through a series insipid scenes, neither hair-raising nor originally extrinsic to Hooper’s film.
What is Leatherface (2017) about?
Leatherface (2017) kicks off in middle 50s. After a brief introduction to the Sawyer family’s shady endeavors, the story makes a 10-year long jump, to land in a psych ward. When a rebellion bursts out there, this sets in motion a bunch of hillbilly lunatics to go on a killing spree.
Maury and Bustillo researched a variety of bludgeoning flicks to draw inspiration from. The hillbilly killing rampage strongly reminds of Rob Zombie’s favorite family of depraved psychos from Devil’s Rejects (2005). And there are similarities between the two, as I consider this follow-up to the massively underrated The House of 1000 Corpses (2003) underwhelming, for reasons similar as to why Leatherface (2017) fails too.
Both films incorporate a repugnant amount of sadism, served with little style of their own. Two-dimensional violence in Leatherface (2017) lacks finesse that would build upon what’s already known about Leatherface the killer. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo move in various directions within the story, thus leaving this origin story unsure of what it’s supposed to be.
Leatherface (2017) stuffs tributes and references, but lacks its own style
The art of dialogue writing is also a mystery to the directors of Leatherface (2017). Hardly can I imagine someone frightened at lines like “do that again and I’ll turn you into strawberry pie”, pronounced with one-and-only Louisiana accent.
As mentioned, Rob Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects (2005) is not the only adherent material that is glued to this pulp called Leatherface (2017). Maury and Bustillo very directly refer to other horrors, as if paying a “tribute” and showing off. A Hannibal Lecter reference made a cut, in a scene when a man is devoured by oinking pigs. There was even space for a “cameo” of Jörg Buttgereit’s Nekromantik (1987) in a violent intercourse blip between two cuckoo fugitives performing a repulsive act of love in a company of a rotting corpse. Awesome.
To stuff random references is to call yourself an artist when copying and mashing styles of others. Maury and Bustillo have no distinct style, and therefore Leatherface (2017) is just a silly b-movie, that is more of a stain on the 70s classic. I hope that Tobe Hooper won’t need to see that someone desecrated his opus magnum again.
Leatherface (2017) – Culturally Hated or Loved?
Sadly styleless, derivative when it comes to the scares, and ultimately underwhelming, this is not the origin story Letherface deserved as a cult character.
Hate Grade: 8/10
Directors: Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo
Writers: Seth Sherwood (main scriptwriter) Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper (credited)
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Lily Taylor, Sam Strike
Music: John Frizzell
Cinematography: Antoine Sanier
Movies similar to Leatherface (2017):
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – all-time horror classic, which is a must-see for the fans of the whole franchise,
- The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – similarly violent and also equally uninventive, this is a close kin to Leatherface (2017),
- Sawney: Flesh of Man (2012) – a Scottish movie about hillbilly cannibals that killed over 1000 people in the mountainside. Extremely gory,
- What The Waters Left Behind (2017) – an Argentinian flick where gore takes another extreme turn.