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Leatherface (Blu-ray Review)

In terms of horror franchising, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Or Chainsaw as just one word, it varies) is the messiest of the bunch in terms of finding any semblance of continuity or hold. They’ve had sequels, soft reboots, remakes, prequels to remakes, sequels that ignore all the rest and now we have a prequel to the original in the world of the sequel that ignored all the rest. To make matters all the more confusing, it named itself the same as the third film. Well, if there is one constant its the title character of this (And the third film), the horror icon Leatherface. This latest installment was moved around, delayed and then finally debuted in a couple theaters and straight to VOD. Now, just a couple months later you can pick it up on Blu-ray December 12th.

Film 

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

A franchise, known for some healthy gore, done by the guys who made the gory fan favorite film Inside? What could go wrong? Well, there’s plenty to do so, or maybe things are just tired and uninteresting. Leatherface wants to be different and have a new angle to show on this almost 45 year old series, but its just not too compelling or interesting by the end of it. Its infinitely more watchable than the worst film of the series, but doesn’t provide anything memorable like many of the lesser entries tend to do.

What they want to do here is play the game of “Who’s Jed?” Jed being the title character of Leatherface. We see him as a boy being given his first Chainsaw opportunity and also making his first kill. Then this zaps to ten years later at a looney bin where Jed is, but all the inmates have changed their names and there’s a group of four (Including a female) that he could possibly be.  The escaped inmates plus our final girl nurse go on a road trip of sorts as we weed out the potentials and also leave a bloody trail in their wake. Unfortunately, Jed winds up being the most obvious character he could be if you’re one familiar with whodunits and trying to misdirect audiences.

The film does deliver in dropping buckets of blood, severing limbs and splattering frequently. The film just doesn’t put forth and good, memorable or worthwhile characters to follow around, good or bad. Even our heroin just isn’t much here to really invest in. One of the good things out of this, is the scenery chewing, almost campy performance out of Stephen Dorff. It does help to truck the movie along in spots and he’s a good enough menace to counter our despicable villains in the movie.

Leatherface is bad, but its not bad enough to be called the worst of the franchise (That’d be the fourth, congrats…STILL king!). So that’s not very good either. Unlike the previous effort (Texas Chainsaw 3D), its not so dumb its charming and entertaining in its unintentional hilarity. No, we have an interesting concept, but the prequel aspect is tired and the whole Leatherface thing just doesn’t pan out.  This one seems like it may have had some behind the scenes issues or went through heavy reshoots as there are a lot of deleted and alternate sequences shown on this disc. Maybe some day they can make a pick and choose follow up to sequel to Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, giving me more Chop Top. Leatherface may never go away, but hopefully when he comes back, its with a better film.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Leatherface features a nice, solid, crisp transfer from Lionsgate. Details are pretty strong and the image is a dark one, but its handled pretty well. Its one that has tried to have that fried, hot, bleached over look, so colors are sorta worn looking. Its a movie in the Texas dessert, and if you’ve seen one Texas Chainsaw movie, you know what this one is gonna appear like in terms of an aesthetic.

Depth:  This one features some solid, above average dimensional work. Movements are smooth and cinematic in their nature. No real issues found with blurring or jittering during the more action-packed sequences that occur in the film.

Black Levels: Lots of deep blacks here, with a lot of dark interiors and the way the sun shines down, some shadow-heavy daytime scenes too. Details hold and things become more defined. Information doesn’t really get too lost in the darkness. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: As mentioned above, due to the “hot desert” look of the film, things are a bit more drained of their color. however, diner walls, blood spatter, couch pillows and some other things produce some nice saturated looking reds, blues and such.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are warm and keep a consistent appearance scene to scene form start to finish of the film. Medium and close up shots reveal sweat beads, blemishes, dried blood/dirt, wrinkles, stubble, freckles and more on the characters’ faces.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Leatherface rips through your speakers with a pretty solid and at times rather playful 5.1 track. There are some fun intricacies strewn in that enhance some of the scenes with ease. There’s a good balance here, with the effects, music and vocals really blending well. Its not extravagant, but it really gets the job done.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Engines humming, windows smashing, punches, score hits and more highlight the subwoofer contribution.

Surround Sound Presentation: Its a more front heavy experience, but there are some really good moments, like a quiet one in a trailer where someone is wandering around outside. Rear speakers provide mostly ambiance while the front accurately depicts the onscreen action.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear with decent attention to the actors’ diction.

Extras 

Leatherface comes with an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Play Feature With Alternate Ending 

Behind The Bloody Mask: Making Leatherface (HD, 13:24) – This is a little fluff piece that is a little bit above and EPK. Solid and short. Its almost humorous how deep and prestigious the people talk about this film. “It’s different from other horror films because its about characters.” Also “Its plot driven”.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 21:04)

Summary 

Leatherface tries to do something unique and different in the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, but it just really doesn’t work. And in not working, its more of a bore than ridiculous or fun. This Blu-ray comes with a solid video and audio presentation as well as some okay extras which I’m surprised this film even got to have. That in itself is a bonus. This is really for Texas Chainsaw completionists and horror franchise collector geeks. But luckily you don’t have to swallow too big of a pill as Lionsgate already has this one listed dirt cheap. Scrape up some change and pre-order right below this sentence!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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