Texas Chainsaw Massacre rips its promising premise with abandon, sacrificing the film’s compelling leads for brutal, insane gore.
Warning: The interview below contains spoilers for 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, streaming now on Netflix.
In the footsteps of David Gordon Green Halloweenby Netflix Chainsaw Massacre sought to revive the beloved horror franchise by bringing back its latest original daughter, Sally Hardesty. However, the movie also intended to be a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — disregarding any lore from the previous seven films in the franchise. If those two goals didn’t put enough pressure on the production, the fact that its original directors – Ryan and Andy Tohill – left a week to film the slasher certainly did.
All of these expectations tug at the raw edges of the horror movie, making it easier to find dangling plot threads. While, for the most part, director David Blue Garcia puts together an enjoyable adventure, the film can’t decide who it tells the story and why. Based on a story by Fede Alvarez (evil Dead) and Rodo Sayagues (Don’t breathe 2), and written by Chris Thomas Devlin, Chainsaw Massacre is no match for the bloody legacy he so clearly admires.
Expected audiences Chainsaw Massacre to be the final showdown between a 50-year-old Leatherface and a hardened Sally (Olwen Fouéré). Instead, Garcia introduces audiences to a new generation of 20-somethings arriving in Harlow, Texas, seeking to revive the ghost town’s economy. What’s up with Sally Texas Ranger is fair enough to warrant its presence in the story but it ends up feeling more like a fan-service nod that hints at an intriguing life we’ll never know. When Fouéré is on screen, she commands and adds believable granularity to the role. Likewise, Mark Burnham’s Leatherface rises and staggers with all the heartbreaking energy fans have come to expect from the serial killer who wears a face. It’s a shame that their only fight feels like a forced dance. Both deserved more time to shine on screen and settle their decades-long score. Sally – and the Legacy of Marilyn Burns – more than deserved to be brought back to be an end/death act plot device meant to launch a franchise.
The most of Chainsaw MassacreThe execution of centers around the new cast of characters who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and make stupid decisions – which makes Leatherface’s mo of killing them all perfectly understandable and honestly fun to watch. What made Hooper’s original film so terrifying was the idea that any person could fall into a life or death situation. Garcia’s framing of this concept of chance works quite well. We believe that in newcomers’ quest to revive (read: buy) a town, they would not realize how much bank foreclosures affect their new neighbors. Of all the hot topics covered by the film—high school shootings, racism, gun rights, alliance, feminism—its focus on social class divisions stands out. In that light, Garcia’s film is more like the darkly comedic spirit of Hooper’s classic that had bloody fun alongside socio-political commentary.
But the terror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre lives in his anonymity. Hooper’s teens didn’t need incredibly detailed stories to count. The fact that there’s still so much we don’t know about Leatherface’s victims East which is terrifying. Chainsaw MassacreThe creative team misses this vital point by spending way too much time refining character details and stories that end up giving us more questions than answers. Either pair the main cast Where leaning into the ordinary, unprepared nature of the characters – à la The foreigners — would have worked better. Among the cast, Sarah Yarkin’s Melody stands out, bringing palpable frustration, fear and rage to the screen. Watching her and Elsie Fisher’s Lila escape from Leatherface is enjoyable and, again, makes audiences wonder what it would be like if the movie focused more on these two characters rather than developing supporting characters.
Chainsaw Massacre‘s gore book but its use doesn’t seem consistent. At one point, an entire busload of out-of-town investors arrives only to give Leatherface more fodder to kill. Although this moment brings a refreshing campy tone, closer to The Texas Chainsaw Part 2, he feels out of place in what is otherwise a claustrophobic slasher shot inside a decaying house. If it was sewn when editing, its visual seams are displayed. However, the intimate, minimal use of Garcia works well — like the film’s (and macabre) opening scene. Plus, the final twist – serving great High tension and old school Leatherface vibes – land well too. If the rest of Chainsaw Massacre had those same levels of restraint and playful allusions, the film would have delighted many fans.
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