It’s often asked when a trailer drops for a remake, prequel, reimagining, soft-reboot, hard-reboot or whatever other adjective is used to describe a continuation of a well-loved franchise, but was Leatherface, the soon to be released prequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, really necessary?
Coming several weeks after the more oblique and gristly red band trailer was released, we now have a more plot driven and conventional trailer, and––just going by what they show––there seems to be nothing new on display. In fact, I'd argue this goes beyond offering nothing new; a sense of dejá vu creeps in once one realizes that there has already been a prequel to this franchise: Jonathan Liebesman’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006). That film also had little going for it, but at the very least it co-starred R. Lee Ermey, who seemed to be chewing as much scenery as he could fit into his mouth.
Leatherface, to its credit, co-stars Stephen Dorff and Lili Taylor (who are both good on occasion) but trading in Ermey for anyone seems like a step down, regardless of who it is. If there is one moment in the trailer that raises some emotion other than exhaustion and dread, it’s the sight of Leatherface wearing a decapitated cow’s head over his own as if it were a Halloween mask; that raised a couple of chuckles, although I don’t think that’s the intention.
The film is directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the French horror filmmakers behind Inside (2007) and Livid (2011). Those films are solid, even interesting, but, going by the trailer alone, Leatherface seems like a hack-for-hire job. Perhaps the two men agreed to make it with the hope that its success would fund their less conventional work in France.
Leatherface is due to be released directly to DirectTV on September 21st before getting a limited theatrical release and VOD release on October 20th and it will be distributed by Lionsgate Pictures. It also stars Finn Jones and Sam Strike.