When every other horror franchise is struggling to maintain relevance in today’s climate, what’s a vintage backwoods slasher to do but try to keep up. It seems like this was the primary motivation for the latest entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series. The new Netflix original goes the Halloween 2018 route (in more ways than one), and the result is very much a mixed bag.
Much like the 1974 original, the movie begins with a group of young people from out of town traveling through Texas. They’re met by the locals with a sense of unwelcomeness, as if they’re out of place.
Here, the group of friends plan to open a restaurant in a rundown small town in order to revitalize in true gentrified fashion. Between kicking an old woman out of her home that they claim they have purchased (but can’t seem to provide the deed), and angering the locals by their mere presence, they set a chain of events into motion.
As far as horror movie characters go, they can come off as pretentious and annoying, but to be fair, that kind of seems like the point. Older generations will look at these characters and think that the movie is trying to say something about the youth, but that’s very much what the original did as well. Sally, Franklin, and their friends were just as insufferable to older audiences in 1974. So that doesn’t seem like too valid a criticism.
What is a valid criticism however is in how poorly developed these characters seem to be. The actors are doing the best they can with admittedly not the best script. But at no point do you buy these people as actual friends, (or even sisters, which two of them are supposed to be).
Part of what made the original so compelling was that the characters and setting felt real, almost too real for comfort once the horror began. And perhaps it’s not fair to compare this movie to that original, but when it’s essentially using the exact same title and purporting itself to be a direct sequel, those comparisons come with the territory.
Guts, Gore, Glory
The legend of Leatherface looms not only over the land, but the people as well. We learn that original protagonist Sally went on to become a Texas Ranger and spent decades trying to find Leatherface, but to no avail (more on her later).
After decades of seemingly hiding in plain sight, Leatherface emerges with his chainsaw and does what he does best. Or at least he does what the movie thinks he does best. Gone are any real semblances of his cannibalistic family or the fact that he was purely the muscle. All of that is replaced with a new Leatherface who’s just brutally murdering people just because (not complaining about this on principle, it just doesn’t seem like the same character from before).
However, for fans who are just looking for awesome gleefully grotesque and gory mutilations and kills, they won’t be disappointed. Leatherface wields his chainsaw, along with other weapons including a hammer. We see all sorts of body part broken, chopped, and sliced into gruesome ways we never thought possible. It doesn’t quite have the brutality that the 2003 remake does, but it has some clever and creative kills that mostly seem to be done via practical effects, and that’s always more than welcome in a slasher film.
Where this movie really gets frustrating however, is in the fact that it builds up anticipation for the return of legacy character Sally only to have her not do very much. We get glimpses of her early in the movie, but she really doesn’t get in on the action until the final 30 minutes.
Using the legacy characters sparingly worked in Scream (2022) because we already had four previous movies of Sidney as the protagonist to get to know her. But this version of Sally hasn’t been seen in 50 years (nor in any previously retconned sequel), so bringing her back just to do very little with her just feels cheap and forced.
The movie wants to build up their confrontation to some showdown of epic proportions, but doesn’t do the necessary homework to build it up properly. The result is an empty shell of a sequel that fails to live up to its contemporary counterparts involving Michael Myers and Ghostface.
Given that it’s streaming and you probably have a Netflix account already (or mooch off someone who does), there’s no reason not to check out the movie and form your own opinion. If you’re just looking for some fun, mindless kills, you’ll probably get something out of it. But if you’re looking for something deeper or on par with previous entries in this franchise, you may be left hanging on a proverbial meathook to be consumed by another callous cash grab of cinema!
What did you think of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)? Let us know in the comments!