The Horror Show

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by Alexandre Bustillo
and Julien Maury

When I watched Leatherface I didn’t understand why this movie needed to be made. Why in the world do we need the backstory of any of the Sawyer family? We pretty much know the story, an inbred family of cannibals that lives and dies by the saw. What more do you need? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a horror classic that didn't need a remake, reboot, or a re-imagining. It really didn't need a prequel either but here we are. It's not that I hate any of the remakes, except that last one that ruined the timeline and had the worst dialogue ever in it. I just feel like if it ain't broke, well, you know.

Warning: I will be spoiling the “twist” here. I hate to do it, but it has to happen.

The movie opens with the Sawyer family celebrating the youngest, Jed's, birthday. His mother/aunt, Verna gives him a chainsaw. She also presents a thief that Drayton and Nubbins, Jed's brothers/possibly cousins, caught stealing pigs from the family farm. Jed can't kill the man so Drayton helps him get his first kill with the saw. Title comes up and suddenly we are introduced to Ted and Betty. Jed tricks Betty into following him. He leads her to a barn where she falls in a pit and Drayton and Nubbins crush her with what I believe to be a giant motor. Unfortunately, Betty was the daughter of the crazy sheriff, Hal Hartman. He's had run-ins with Verna and the rest of the clan, so he is not amused to find Drayton, Nubbins, and Jed at the scene. He loads up Jed and takes him to Gorman House, a home for disturbed children, telling Verna he's protecting him from her.

Ten years pass and we meet Jackson and Bud. Bud is a silent hulking giant of a boy and Jackson is his kind protector. Apparently, in this home for bad kids they take away your name. I know why it's in the movie, I'm just saying it's kind of silly. We're introduced to Lizzie the nurse, Clarice the bitchy psychopath, Ike the rapey gross schizophrenic, rounding out our cast for the rest of the movie. Verna shows up newly remarried and causes a scene. This gives the delinquents a chance to break out of Gorman House. Ike takes Lizzie and Jackson hostage, picks up Clarice and Bud, and suddenly we get Texas Chainsaw: The Road Movie! The kids make plans to head to Mexico. They stop in a diner and kill a bunch of people. Well, Clarice and Ike kill a bunch of people. Those two are like a mentally disturbed Bonnie and Clyde except they're very unlikable. They find an old camper out in the woods and decide it's a good place to hide out even though there's a rotting corpse of the previous tenant. Meanwhile, Hartman and Iron Fist, I mean, Deputy Sorrel, are on the hunt for them because he knows that one of the escapees is Jed.

There is talk of illness, families, and betrayal. There is sex on a rotting corpse. Lizzie tries to run for like the one hundredth time. Ike chases her and then tries to rape her. Gross. Jackson fights Ike. Clarice comes out of nowhere and breaks it up. Bud goes all protector and kills Ike. The cops show up and they ditch Clarice. Hartman catches Clarice and shoots her. Jackson, Bud and Lizzie keep running until the shocker happens, Bud gets killed. Jackson goes mental and kills the cop. They run and another cop shoots Jackson thru his cheek. Hartman manages to capture Jackson and we get the big reveal that he's Jed and it's time for payback. Too bad Sorrel is working for Verna. He tells her that Hartman has her boy. The family then kills the deputy and feeds him to the pigs.

There is a big showdown at the barn where Hartman's daughter was killed. Lizzie and Hartman get kidnapped by the Sawyers. Jed gets stitched up by his Mama Aunt and given a leather harness to hold his jaw in place. Jed kills Hartman. Jed kills Lizzie. We get a final scene of Jed making his first actual face and then a jump scare. The End.

When they first announced this movie I was so hesitant to watch. The movie industry has tried to give Leatherface a lore for so long and it seems no one can get it right. This movie came close, but there are so many things that are just wrong. It's not a bad movie, it's a bad origin story for one of the most beloved killers in horror. Lily Taylor, Stephen Dorff, and Finn Jones were amazing. Lily Taylor alone is worth the watch when she is on screen, which isn't nearly enough. The effects were so on point! They all looked like they were done practically. The scene where Hartman shoots Clarice is beautiful. However, it wasn't all good.

I have so many issues with parts of the movie. The whole time we're led to believe that Bud was Leatherface. He was silent, huge, and killed without hesitation. When they revealed that Jackson was Jed, I got angry. This skinny armed, lanky, whiny-boy who talked a lot will turn into the terrifying killer known as Leatherface? I don't buy it. On top of that, Drayton kills. We know him as The Cook in the original. He makes it a point at the dinner scene to say he didn't have the stomach for killing. Nubbins is known as The Hitchhiker in the original and makes fun of Drayton for being just a cook. They didn't have names until part two so that makes two canon. If part two happens, where is Chop Top? There are so many holes in this you could drive the Last Roundup Rolling Grill through them! At least they got the timeline right, unlike some movies in this franchise.

In the end I can say this is a good, gory movie that probably should have been about a random bunch of hillbillies instead of The Sawyers. It's worth the watch, but I wouldn't go in expecting perfection.

Robin Thompson, HMS

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