Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Netflix
Directed by David Blue Garcia
Written by Chris Thomas Devlin, Fede Alvarez (story by), Rodo Sayagues (story by)
2022, 81 minutes, Rated 18
Released on 18th February 2022
Sarah Yarkin as Melody
Elsie Fisher as Lila
Mark Burnham as Leatherface
Jacob Latimore as Dante
It’s fitting that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has had as many face-lifts as it has. After all, this is the franchise of Leatherface, a guy whose whole thing is cutting off faces and altering his personality a little bit with each new fizzog. Ignoring the last reboot and its prequel (and the remake and the prequel before that), David Blue Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the latest direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s original classic.
Garcia’s sequel finds Leatherface sans family – retired in the orphanage where he has apparently been adopted by a kindly (if misguided) old biddy (Alice Krige). Leatherface’s world is once again turned upside down by a gang of modern-day hippies: influencers who have somehow purchased the whole town to turn into a ‘safe space’ for people like Lila (Elsie Fisher), the survivor of a school shooting.
Accidentally evicting Leatherface from his adopted home, the gang find themselves on the receiving end of his wrath. The now pensionable horror icon makes up for lost time, quickly putting the ‘massacre’ into Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Who will survive, and what will be left of… ah, you know the rest.
From Tobe Hooper’s demented Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 through to Maury and Bustillo’s misguided Leatherface, there’s no two chainsaw massacres quite the same. And Garcia’s legacy sequel is no different in its difference. With Leatherface now orphaned, the film is all Leatherface, all the time. Once again beset by stupid kids stomping all over his home and messing things up, he reacts the only way he knows how – by stabbing, bludgeoning, smashing and sawing them to death. This is perhaps the bloodiest Texas Chainsaw Massacre to date, letting Leatherface go to town (a whole town!) on swathes of expendables and their dipshit friends. After eight movies of Leatherface playing second fiddle to his screeching kin (plus Chainsaw 3D’s small town hicks), it is fun to see the big guy take centre stage.
This time, it’s Leatherface’s victims who get to be the annoying ones. Garcia and screenwriter Chris Thomas Devlin seem to hate them almost as much as Leatherface does – a vacant, hypocritical lot, stumbling into a mess of their own making and speaking almost in parody (the “you’re cancelled bro,” line is just as bad in context as it was in the trailer). The generational and wealth gap was always present in Hooper’s original Massacre, but Garcia makes text of the subtext. Hate it, and hate the characters too? Don’t worry, most of them are carved up in some of the nastiest kills the franchise has ever seen. It’s the most nihilistic one since The Beginning.
Where the movie really stumbles is in its clumsiness. It looks beautiful (for all the memes, the sunflower field scene really works), but there’s a one-dimensionality to everything: the characters, the set (which looks like a cardboard frontier town from a ‘60s Star Trek time travel episode), even the return of Sally Hardesty, who’s only there because that’s what the Halloween series did.
The only thing that really works is Garcia’s commitment to being horrible – the brutal kill sequences, extreme splatter and cruelty to its characters. As Lila fights for survival, one can see cogs turning and whirring, positioning this school shooting survivor into a place where she herself needs to lock n’ load if she wants to live.
Functionally, the action works, and it works well. There are at least three too many instances of characters appearing from nowhere with a one-liner and a well-aimed shotgun blast (“hey, Leatherfuck” is a real thing someone says) and the film is more in love with guns than it is chainsaws, but it’s exciting and well-staged. Given the level of slaughter and mean-spirited violence on display, it’s hard to argue with the “what more do you want from a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie” crowd and the “turn off your brain and enjoy the show” crowd (or, even louder, the "shut up and enjoy this stupid, terrible, no-good movie and stop having such high-falootin' expectations for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre" crowd).
It's a fine Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but not by any means a Texas Chain Saw Massacre. If this particular iteration doesn't work for you? Well, there's always the next one.
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