Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Netflix

texas chainsaw massacre 2022 poster large

Directed by David Blue Garcia
Written by Chris Thomas Devlin, Fede Alvarez, and Rodo Sayagues
2022, 81 minutes, Rated R
Released on February 18th, 2022

Sarah Yarkin as Melody
Elsie Fisher as Lila
Mark Burnham as Leatherface
Olwen Fouéré as Sally Hardesty
Jacob Latimore as Dante
Moe Dunford as Richter
Alice Krige as Mrs. Mc
Nell Hudson as Ruth
Jessica Allain as Catherine
John Larroquette as Narrator (voice)

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Go ahead. Admit it. When you first heard about ANOTHER Texas Chainsaw flick, you kind of rolled your eyes a bit. It’s a series that has had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s always been fun, excessively violent, and criminally insane in the same breath, though, and that’s been the spirit of every TCM film and the Leatherface character since Tobe Hooper changed the world in 1974.

Idealistic sisters Melody (Sarah Yarkin; Happy Death Day 2U) and Lila (Elsie Fisher; Castle Rock) have made their way to Harlow, Texas, with their good friend and business partner, Dante (Jacob Latimore; The Maze Runner). Their aim is to start a progressive utopia in a Texas ghost town. Unfortunately, this isn’t any old middle of nowhere, burned-out Lone Star town; it’s the home of a dormant Leatherface (Mark Burnham; Lowlife) and his aging mother, Mrs. Mc (Alice Krige; Gretel & Hansel). The only other residents are a mechanic named Richter (Moe Dunford; Vikings) and the local two-man police force. The town is theirs via auction, however, and before you can say “you should really turn around”, a bus full of Gen Z party-goers arrives to check the place out. A tragedy awakens the sleeping monster, which in turn awakens the only person to ever survive the monster – Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré; Mandy). The ghost town of Harlow is about to be alive with the sound of chainsaws and vengeance.

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Serving as a direct sequel to the original film that eschews literally all the other films in the series, Texas Chainsaw Massacre impresses not only with excellent cinematography from Ricardo Diaz (Stranger Things) that is sharp when it needs to be and grainy when it counts, but it also ups the violence to Mortal Kombat levels of dismemberment, splatter, and blunt force trauma. 2022 is a young year, but I’m not second-guessing my “Kill of the Year” write-in moment – the lead-off kill in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a goddamn delight. Tell me I’m wrong; I’ll wait.

Where each film has fallen on the campiness meter is all over the place, but Leatherface is at his nastiest when the brutality knob is broken off at eleven and everyone is in the path of his saw. I adore the more colorful family stuff as much as the next guy; Chop Top is a household name for a reason, after all! Still, I wanted a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre that shows respect to the original in a big way while serving as a damn fine sequel that can easily carry on the series in a new arc. Dare I say I wanted something a little more serious? Maybe even some characters who occasionally make a smart decision and challenge Leatherface?

I know, I know…that’s a hell of a lot to ask. Luckily for all of us, we have Kim Henkel and Fede Alvarez producing for a talented young director in David Blue Garcia and enough of that Netflix clout to score the one and only John Larroquette to voice the opening. The next piece is a physical and imposing actor to murder as many people as possible, and six-foot, six-inch veteran actor Mark Burnham gives you a Leatherface that has a completely empty garden of fucks. He’s intense, folks. Heads up.

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Maybe the most pleasant surprise, though, is the story and chemistry between Sarah Yarkin and Elsie Fisher. This is a movie firmly made in and taking place in 2022. There is quite a bit being said about the state of us in this great land, Gen Z, old ways, and school shootings. It should be heavy-handed…and it flirts with the line just a tad…but it mostly enhances the main dramatic arc of the two damaged sisters and their dreams and makes it matter. And yes, they do make plenty of smart decisions. So refreshing.

It also allows for a liveliness and a body count previously unheard of in any TCM. There’s a wonderful bit of phallic symbolism as Leatherface saws through a boy’s crotch and uses the saw in an extremely below-the-belt way that is shot like a twisted sex-ed video from the ‘60s! That’s high art, folks! And is that symbolism in Texas Chainsaw Massacre?!

Complete with one of the more memorable closing shots you’ll ever see and visceral moments that will literally have you sitting on that proverbial edge of the seat, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a genuine love letter to one of the giants of horror cinema. Welcome back, Leatherface. We missed you and that disgusting apron.

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Movie: 5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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