Just for the fact that Leatherface was the last production of the recently deceased Tobe Hooper, it’s worth giving it a try. The directors, Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, who already surprised in 2007 with the wonderful À l’intérieur at the Sitges Festival –winning the award for Best Make-up- return to the samewith the arduous decision to reboot the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise – giving up, of course, the 2006 feature film directed by Jonathan Liebesman that already tried to originate the entire caracuero family – focusing solely and exclusively on telling us about the first steps of one of the most symbolic serial killers in the history of modern cinema. Which is most attractive considering the character’s long career. But, just like Rob Zombie with his Halloween originsby John Carpenter, Bustillo and Maury fall into the attempt to explain more than necessary and in a way too ordinary. It is nothing new for a murderer to start his butchers due to some childhood trauma that dragged on to puberty and matured into a psychopath. Both films succumb to the same error. And it is that, a priori, one always fears what is not known, so one of the points that made this uncontrollable fear grow every time that caracuero appeared on the screen was to ignore its beginnings, motivations or the reasons for its desire to kill. Here, even, the definition that Leatherface receives is something similar to the one Jason had on Friday the 13th, that is, that he is controlled in a certain way by his mother. Which takes away even some originality from the Crystal Lake butcher.
Leaving aside, then, that any origin that you try to give to a mythical character of the genre is going to make you lose your most important factor, fear, Leatherface turns out to be a product that works at half throttle. That is, the title it receives is just an excuse to be able to place some characters in an environment similar to that of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and culminate its third act with the typical ending of its entire saga: with a crazy man with chainsaw in hand chasing after the pretty girl on duty to break her into a thousand pieces. Her biggest problem is that, by bearing the title she bears, she carries a legacy too heavy for the quality of film that Bustillo and Maury are up to. That does not stop being a slasher singular with too many similarities to others. And it is normal, since it follows the rules of that subgenre, but being the most emblematic icon of Hooper’s filmography, it should have small details that separate it from the majority.
Entering the acting section, the characters that make up the story function correctly according to the events that are narrated. Although the cast acts as expected, the magnetism of the protagonists is not powerful enough to trap us in their networks and make us connect with the story through them. It is known from the beginning who will be the first and the last to fall. But skillfully the directors play for a certain time with the confusion of the spectator so that he must decipher which of them will be the one who will become a Leatherface in a few moments. It seems like a simple task once we see the members that make up the set of main actors, but both directors manage to create an atmosphere of mystery in the background hidden by a curtain of blood and guts that, little by little,final plottwist .
On the other hand, while the Texas Massacre was a proclamation of the amount of crimes that were being committed and that went unpunished in the United States because all the authorities and armed forces had their eye fixed on the Vietnam War, in Leatherface performs the opposite. There is talk of police brutality and abuse of force that is always justified by the word justice. An abuse that, at least in the US, no one seems to take action on the matter. Although this, of course, is presented in the key of revenge for a certain event that occurs at the beginning of the film and which I will not speak of so as not to gut the plot. And without a doubt, beyond wanting to be something terrifying, it lays the foundations for which the film will move.
With all this I do not proclaim that it is a bad film, because, like almost everything, it has highly recommended elements that make it highly entertaining, but much more was expected of it. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre label has proven to be a double-edged sword for Leatherface, which falls a bit short for origins. Both Bustillo and Maury have found it a bit difficult to revive a saga like this. Now, as a ghoulish, gore, crazy spectacle, with a hat-off photograph and just to see Tobe Hooper’s name on screen in 2017, it’s worth seeing.
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