After horrifying audiences as a haunted mother in The Conjuring, Lili Taylor is heading back to the world of horror with a supporting role – also as a tormented matriarch, albeit of a different ilk – in Millenium’s Leatherface, a prequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise.
Taylor is stepping in for Angela Bettis, who dropped out after Leatherface conflicted with another project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
She joins Stephen Dorff, Sam Strike, James Bloor, Sam Coleman and Jessica Madsen in the flick, which Millenium recently revealed centers on “a young nurse who is kidnapped by four violent teens who escape from a mental hospital and take her on a road trip from hell. Pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge, one of these teens is destined for tragedy and horrors that will destroy his mind, molding him into the monster we now call Leatherface.”
The story is intended as a cross between the mystery, thriller and horror genres, and perhaps that foray outside of no-frills terror is what the franchise needs to get an audience back. According to some outlets, though Strike was originally cast as Leatherface, Bloor’s character will also display some homicidal tendencies, and either actor could be shaped into the iconic villain over the course of the prequel.
Millenium has been trying to crack a new installment in the veteran Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise ever since 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3-D, which seemed torn between full-blooded horror and goofy self-parody. The reviews were harsh, and ticket sales plummeted after opening weekend, so the studio’s plan to use that title to launch a new generation films led by newly coronated scream queen Alexandra Daddario fell apart. Execs went back to the drawing board and, perhaps encouraged by the TV success of Bates Motel and Hannibal, came up with a prequel to the franchise that would craft a creepy, complex backstory for the chainsaw-wielding psycho.
Based on the plot synopsis, the studio certainly seems to have come up with an unusual, never-before-seen approach to the character, and that in of itself is plenty exciting. Unfortunately, that Millenium is turning back the clock for Leatherface means Daddario’s chances of returning to the franchise, at least for this film, are slim to nil. The actress was a pleasant surprise in her Texas Chainsaw movie, and her star is rising, so maybe the studio will try to work her back into future entries.