Eye For Film >> Movies >> Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) Film Review
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Reviewed by: Antoni Konieczny
Behold the joys of the far-from-late-stage requel-making boom. Hollywood franchises, notably Halloween and Scream, have been, for a while now, bringing back legacy characters and dropping numbers from their titles. Netflix’s sequel to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, ignoring all Leatherface’s outings but the first, follows suit, bearing a clean title and featuring the original final girl - Sally Hardesty. Despite David Blue Garcia’s knack for neat visuals and over-the-top carnage, this entry makes dubious updates on Tobe Hooper’s legacy.
As an obligatory gas station scene unfolds, we meet our young protagonists in Lila (Elsie Fisher), Melody (Sarah Yarkin), Dante (Jacob Latimore), and Ruth (Nell Hudson). These twenty-something “idealistic individuals who want to build a better world” are headed for a ghost town of Harlow where they will wait for potential investors in hope of having the area gentrified. Little do they know that they are about to move next to Texas’ infamous resident, Leatherface (Mark Burnham) - a human skin mask-wearing mass murderer. This acquaintance will, of course, generate a fair amount of gore.
In truth, this particular cast of characters is conceptually a decent enough evolution from Hooper’s hippies and an effective way to introduce new audiences to the franchise. It’s the film’s strange thematic interests and its treatment of legacy characters that break the immersion. The traumatic backstory of Melody's younger sister Lila, involving a school shooting, for instance, never quite matches the franchise’s hysterical and unhinged tone and it doesn’t help that the film is uncertain as to where, if at all, it ought to take the idea further.
A truly odd choice, though, has to do with the amount of screen-time devoted to a conflict around property ownership and eviction, which becomes a springboard to lending Leatherface a motive. This takes away from the simplicity and the enigma that made this mute killer the effective bogeyman he’s always been. The least convincing is the arc the screenwriters give to the returning character of Sally (Olwen Fouéré), now a vengeful ranger, who, at best, feels like a parody of Halloween’s Laurie Strode and, at worst, a (mis)calculated attempt at reproducing modern trends.
When it comes to the instalment’s tone and intensity, it may lack the relentlessness that made the original into a profoundly upsetting experience and, incidentally, a cult classic, but Garcia’s film delivers on plenty of gore. The stalk-and-murder sequences are adequately gruesome, proving he has the chops necessary to satisfy some of slasher fans’ appetites. The film also moves away from the documentary-like style that defines the 1974’s entry; it more closely matches the last year’s Fear Street trilogy. As appealing as these choices can be, it would help the film to distinguish itself from other modern slasher releases if it drew more closely on Hooper’s ability to capture the audience’s imagination with less.
Right before the end credits, the filmmakers indulge in a Friday-the-13th-esque moment that also acts as a forced homage to Hooper’s take on Leatherface. By the time the credits do begin to roll, or rather flicker, there are too few positive impressions left in one’s mind. On the plus side sunflowers are as fine a horror setting as corn and, at the very least, the film does prominently feature the state of Texas (although recreated in Bulgaria), a massacre, and a large chainsaw.Reviewed on: 21 Feb 2022