leatherface trailer

1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is so singular that even original director Tobe Hooper didn’t try to replicate it. His 1986 sequel deliberately veered toward splatter comedy, eschewing scares in favor of guffaws. Why try to top what is already perfect? Why recreate pure cinematic alchemy, a movie that feels like it only works because it was made by the right people at the right time in the right place?

Three official sequels, one reboot, one prequel to the reboot, and one movie that claims to be a direct sequel to the original (while ignoring all continuity) later, we’ve arrived at Leatherface, a film about the early days of the skin-wearing, flesh-eating psychopath of the original movie. But before you roll your eyes too hard, note that this is the Hollywood debut of Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, two directors whose past work has rightfully put them on the radar of horror fans all over the world.

Leatherface Trailer

Let’s start by watching the Leatherface trailer itself, which is a red band trailer and full of all kinds of gore, violence, skin-tearing, skin-mask-making, and murder. You know. NSFW. Act accordingly.

Do We Really Need This Movie?

What this trailer (all atmosphere and violence) doesn’t tell you is that Leatherface follows a young psychopath who escapes from a mental hospital and embarks on a brutal road trip where he racks up a body count. And yes, this guy will eventually grow up to be the chainsaw-wielding maniac from the original movie. My gut reaction to this synopsis, the one that grinds my gears as a horror fan, is that it doesn’t align with the character as we saw him in the original movie. Leatherface isn’t an inhuman, emotionless monster like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. He’s childlike and excitable, seemingly unaware that his behavior is out of the ordinary. When a bunch of young people start walking across his family property (and he begins dispatching them one-by-one), his reaction is one of surprise and fear. Where are these people coming from? What’s going on here? How many people are out there?

I fear that Leatherface will follow the same route as Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake and completely miss the point of the original character while stripping away any and all mystery associated with the character. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a great movie because so little is explained because you’re dropped into a situation that feels random and inexplicable and just plain awful. Do we need to know where this guy came from? Is there an answer that will satisfy anyone?

Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury

But Look Who’s Making It

And yet! There’s a huge and yet here. Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury are two of the most exciting people making horror movies at the moment. The French duo is best known for 2007’s Inside, a home invasion movie about a pregnant woman defending herself against a home invader that makes me physically ill when I think about it. It’s one of the most striking genre debuts of the 21st century – a merciless, stomach-churning descent into horror that refuses to pull its punches. Their second film, the atmospheric and very different Livid, made the festival rounds in 2011 but never received a proper release (despite being perfectly creepy and better than most horror movies released in a given year). A few years ago, they returned with Among the Living, which feels like an ’80s Amblin movie about kids having an adventure and solving a weird mystery…except that it’s soon invaded by a psychopathic killer who has no problem dispatching the young cast. Among the Living is now streaming exclusively on Shudder and if you want a horror movie that will leave you exhausted and drained (in the best ways), fire it up.

So yeah, these guys are making Leatherface. And for that reason alone, I will be watching Leatherface as soon as possible when it’s released later this year. For all I know, this will be a classic case of two talented foreign filmmakers heading to the United States and making a bad movie after being bullied around by their producers. For all I know, this will be another bad movie in a series that hasn’t had a decent entry in over 30 years. But for all I know, Maury and Bustillo will continue their habit of making upsetting movies for people who like to be pummeled by their horror tales. Even if it’s a bad Texas Chain Saw movie, Leatherface could be a good Maury and Bustillo movie!

Leatherface will premiere on DirecTV on September 21 before opening in limited release and arriving on VOD on October 20. Here’s the official synopsis:

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 sheriffs’ daughter dead. Ten years later, he kidnaps a young nurse and escapes with 3 other inmates. Pursued by authorities including the deranged sheriff out to avenge his daughter’s death, the young Sawyer teen goes on a violent road trip from hell, molding him into the monster known now as Leatherface.

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