It’s a rarity for me to write opinion pieces, but after watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), I just can’t help myself. If anything, I feel forced to go down this road, as I’m a big fan of horror movies, and feel the need to keep a close eye on the genre. In turn, I can’t let the 2022 Leatherface live in our minds without dealing with him ASAP. Therefore, I’m writing this piece to analyse the situation and to vent my frustration. So, what happened to the 2022 version of Leatherface? Here’s my breakdown, a deep dive, of why the 2022 Leatherface is absolutely terrible!
Poor Leatherface, What Happened To You?
When I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I couldn’t help but to feel sad for Leatherface. Not because of the story or anything, but because our beloved chainsaw-wielding maniac had been reduced to a mere shell of his former self. While still imposing, there’s no sense of actual character to him, so he just feels like an afterthought, rather than the movie’s main focus. But if you’re going to say that this movie is a sequel to the classic Texas Chain Saw Massacre from 50 years ago, you better actually put some effort into your writing. After all, this Leatherface is supposed to be the same one from the first movie, and that’s not believable in the slightest. I feel disappointed at this rendition of Leatherface; among the worst depictions of all time.
This rendition of Leatherface does not borrow from the 1974 movie or its sequels, nor does it take anything, besides the gore, from the 2003 remake. Instead, what we’re left with is a huge man with a chainsaw, cutting people in half, without much going for him. In turn, he’s mostly just a random killer. It’s Leatherface just in appearance, but not in essence. It’s a soulless and shallow depiction of a character that is supposed to be distinct in behavior and personality. I simply mean that in the year 2022, if this is the best Leatherface you can give us, don’t give us a Leatherface at all. It’s inexcusable.
The most problematic change the writers made to Leatherface was making him invulnerable, as if he’s Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger. I can’t stress this point enough, but he is NOT invulnerable or immortal. He’s a human. It’s something that has been hammered down to the point of no return; Leatherface CAN be killed. If you don’t believe me, even the co-creator of Leatherface, Kim Henkel, said that making Leatherface human instead of a typical monster made him more frightening.
“The only genuinely frightening thing to people is [other] people.”Kim Henkel
When describing Leatherface to Gunnar Hansen, the first to wield the chainsaw, co-creator Tobe Hooper said that the character is mentally impaired and insane. That’s the reason he’s so unpredictable and extremely violent. In his core, Leatherface is a human being with moral schizophrenia, who’s awkward, off-beat and different. He’s shy, he doesn’t know how to talk properly, and invests all his time into his family and his hobbies. It’s something that he enjoys, as he’s a human being, not a mindless monster.
Writer, Fede Alvarez Said He Understood Leatherface
“You can see the human behind the monster. You can see him making mistakes and regretting it and being nervous about it. So, we wanted to kind of bring that back. He’s not just a killing machine. You can see what’s going on inside him.”Fede Alvarez
This makes me believe that at least Fede Alvarez understood the character of Leatherface, so my question is; what happened? While he wasn’t alone in writing the story, doing it with Royo Sayagues, I wonder what changed in the making of the movie for him to completely forget his statement about Leatherface? Like, he’s not a human at all. He survives being shot at, being drowned and he teleports like Jason Voorhees. So what happened here? Perhaps it’s the one behind the screenplay we should be looking at? If so, then that person is Chris Thomas Devlin.
Let me just clarify one thing here, alright? I like Fede and Royo, as they’ve proven to be able to write great movies, penning both Evil Dead and Don’t Breathe; two modern day classics! Thus, I just expected more from them, and while I will say that I really liked some parts of their story, their version of Leatherface just sadly doesn’t cut it in my personal opinion.
With A Leathery Face Comes A Bloody Promise
Some people might say there are many bad versions of Leatherface. So it doesn’t matter that the 2022 version is just a killing machine. Do you know what I have to say in response to that? I completely 100% agree! There are many bad versions of Leatherface, but I don’ t think that excuses creating ANOTHER bad version. If anything, I have grown tired of it, so I want and expect better. We as fans of the franchise deserve better as well. And while most of us still enjoy the movies for what they are, it’s a good thing for us to want better for this historic movie franchise.
The thing that sets Mark Burnham‘s Leatherface apart from others, in a negative way, is that he’s not unique. I’d even say that he’s the least creative version of Leatherface, which makes him very forgettable. Whether we’re talking about the 1974 Leatherface or the 2003 version, there’s a sense of character. Something that makes them tick. Something that makes them who they are, with a distinct behavioral pattern. It wasn’t just random. In the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the killer is just some guy with a chainsaw. That isn’t MY Leatherface, that’s for damn sure!
So what actually happened to the 2022 version of Leatherface? Fede Alvarez had the right idea about the character, but for whatever reason, his vision never came to life. While he said that Leatherface is not “just a killing machine”, being “human”, it didn’t translate on the screen. In all honesty, the exact opposite happened. The 2022 Leatherface is just a killing machine, who doesn’t act like a human being would. It’s something that we see in most Leatherface movies, but not this one. In the 2022 version of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we end up with the most shallow Leatherface of all time. I stand behind this statement to the fullest.
What future writers need to understand about Leatherface is that he’s a human being. We see him fall and cut himself; he bleeds, he gets hurt and feels pain. We witness his humilation and joy; the lows and highs at the hands of his family members. Heck, we even get a look into his sick hobbies, him being attracted to women and even being a gentle soul. With that said, it’s pretty damn clear that the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre creators didn’t understand any of it.
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