Taglines: Meet the world’s most ruthless serial killer.
In 1955 rural Texas, as a part of a brutal initiation test on his birthday, the young Jed Sawyer is assigned with the task of luring an unsuspecting random passer-by into the family’s decrepit barn house. However, when Texas Ranger Hal Hartman’s only daughter suffers a gruesome death, the boy will be forcibly separated from his evil mother for his own protection and placed in a mental institution. Ten years later, the nearly adult Jed along with a handful of criminally insane inmates will manage to escape the asylum during a wild riot, commencing a journey of murder and massacre as the vengeful Ranger is after them. Is this the origin of Leatherface, the demented serial killer?
Leatherface is a 2017 American horror film directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, written by Seth M. Sherwood, and starring Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Grasse, Sam Strike, and Lili Taylor. It is the eighth film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise (TCM), and works as a prequel to 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, explaining the origin of the series’ lead character.
Following the financial success of Texas Chainsaw 3D, a sequel went into development from director John Luessenhop for a planned shoot in Louisiana, but failed to receive the greenlight to move forward. In favor of avoiding the convoluted continuity of the previous films whilst going in an unexpected direction, Seth M. Sherwood pitched Leatherface to Millennium Films as a prequel that would follow the titular character in a mentally competent state, enduring trauma that transforms him into the intellectually disabled murderer seen in the previous films. Maury and Bustillo signed on as directors after reading the screenplay, impressed with what they found to be a unique take on the long-running franchise. The film takes place in the canon established by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Texas Chainsaw 3D, chronologically taking place before the two films.
Principal photography commenced in Bulgaria in May and June 2015, with locations and sets chosen for their resemblance to the Texas terrain and as homage to the series’ previous films. After being temporarily shelved by Lionsgate Films in 2016, the film was made exclusive via DirecTV on September 21, 2017, before receiving a wider release on video on demand and limited theaters, simultaneously, in North America on October 20, 2017. It received generally mixed reviews from film critics, and garnered $887,500 worldwide. Lionsgate and Millennium Films lost the rights to produce future Texas Chainsaw Massacre films because of the delay.
About the Story
At the Sawyer homestead, a birthday party is being held by the family matriarch Verna Sawyer (Lili Taylor) for the youngest member of the Sawyer family, Jedidiah. As his birthday present and to induct him into the murderous family rituals, he is presented with a chainsaw and is urged to slaughter a man who they have accused of attempting to steal from them. Jed refuses, visibly disturbed, and the victim is instead killed by Grandpa Sawyer.
In 1955, couple Betty Hartman and Ted Hardesty are driving down a country road when they come across the seemingly wounded Jedidiah Sawyer. Betty follows him to a dilapidated barn, where she is promptly killed by the Sawyer family. Her father, Sheriff Hartman (Stephen Dorff), is called to the crime scene, where he is shocked to find his daughter deceased. Despite the efforts of Verna, Hartman quickly takes Jedidiah into custody as revenge, sending him to a mental institution known as the Gorman House Youth Reformery.
Ten years later, recently-hired nurse Elizabeth White (Vanessa Grasse) forms a bond with patients Bud and Jackson (Sam Strike) at the Gorman House. Verna arrives later that night with an injunction to allow family visitation for a now teenage Jedidiah, only to be rejected by the director of the facility, Doctor Lang (Chris Adamson). On the way out, she violates security, causing a riot during which many of the nurses and patients are killed. Elizabeth is saved by Jackson, who gets her outside to safety where the two are taken hostage by crazed escapees Ike (James Bloor) and Clarice. As they leave, they come across a bloodied Bud, having just killed Director Lang in a fit of rage, and decide to take him with them.
The group arrives at a rest stop diner shortly after changing clothes. Following an altercation with waitress Tammy, Ike and Clarice begin a murder spree within the diner in which Bud is injured and the group is forced to flee. Hartman arrives on the scene with Deputy Sorells (Finn Jones) and discovers that one of the escaped inmates is in fact Jedidiah.
That night, the escapees take refuge in an abandoned mobile home where Clarice and Ike engage in sexual intercourse, revealing her scarred body and involving the corpse of the former home owner in the debauchery. While everyone is asleep, Elizabeth tries to escape but is stopped by Ike. Ike continually insults Bud, provoking him to brutalize him to death when the others aren’t around. The next morning, Clarice notices Ike is missing and heads off to find him; Jackson and Elizabeth find Bud sleeping on Ike’s corpse and quickly take him away.
Clarice wanders into the woods in search of Ike and is apprehended by Hartman. Upon disparaging both him and his dead daughter, she is shot in the head as the others watch from a distance. Jackson and Bud continue on with Elizabeth in tow. As a Deputy passes, Elizabeth screams out, inadvertently leading to Bud getting shot. Bud’s death sends Jackson into a rage, as he kills the Deputy and has Elizabeth drive them in the deputy’s vehicle in attempt to reach safety.
During their drive, the two are pursued by the deranged Hartman, who opens fire on them with one of the bullets severing Jackson’s face and causing the vehicle to careen off the side of the road. Later that night, Elizabeth awakes handcuffed in Hartman’s car and answers a dispatch call, alerting Sorells to her location. Sorells visits Verna and reveals to her that Hartman has Jedidiah at the old barn where Betty was killed. Verna feeds Sorells to her pigs and then gathers the family to converge on Hartman’s location. At the barn, Hartman takes Elizabeth and the injured Jackson hostage, revealing that Jackson is Jedidiah Sawyer. Verna arrives and Hartman is soon incapacitated by the other Sawyers.
Back at the Sawyer home, Verna stitches the remnants of the mentally-scarred Jedidiah Sawyer’s face and applies a muzzle to hold them together. She then leads him into a room where his siblings are holding Elizabeth and Hartman captive. She gifts Jedidiah with his original chainsaw and Elizabeth watches on in horror as he bisects Hartman to death.
As the family celebrates, Elizabeth flees into the woods while the Sawyers give chase. She nearly escapes, only to be caught in a bear trap. Elizabeth attempts to appeal to Jedidiah’s sympathy, while Verna encourages him to kill her to protect their family. Jedidiah begins to listen to Elizabeth’s pleas that he is not a killer, unable to recall events prior to his injury, until she insults Verna. This causes him to decapitate her in retaliation.
Directed by: Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Starring: Stephen Dorff, Lili Taylor, Sam Strike, Vanessa Grasse, Finn Jones, Sam Coleman, Jessica Madsen, James Bloor, Christopher Adamson, Nathan Cooper, Dejan Angelov, Lorina Kamburova
Screenplay by: Seth M. Sherwood
Production Design by: Alain Bainée
Cinematography by: Antoine Sanier
Film Editing by: Sébastien de Sainte Croix, Josh Ethier
Costume Design by: Ina Damianova
Set Decoration by: Ivan Ranghelov
Art Direction by: Iñigo Navarro
Music by: John Frizzell
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexuality / nudity.
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films, Millennium Films
Release Date: October 20, 2017