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Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Directed by: David Blue Garcia

Premise: A direct sequel to the 1974 original. Nearly fifty years after the events of the first film, a group of young investors visit a ghost town in rural Texas. Their plans to rejuvenate the community are interrupted by the chainsaw wielding killer Leatherface (Mark Burnham).

What Works: There have been several attempts to make the “true sequel” to 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre including 1986’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D. If nothing else, each sequel presents a unique take on the material and the 2022 film is most consistent with the themes of the original picture. The 1974 film was about a group of young people who fall prey to a family of slaughterhouse workers who have been unemployed due to automation. Without belaboring the issue, the original picture dramatized a conflict between urban and rural characters. 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre revisits that idea and updates it for the contemporary era. Millennial-aged investors takeover a nearly abandoned town in rural Texas and Leatherface lashes out in reaction to the invasion. This version of Leatherface is somewhat relevant to the original conception of the character, much more so than many other sequels. As presented in the original film, Leatherface has the mind of a destructive toddler in the body of a powerful man and the 2022 film acknowledges that. The new film is also well shot by cinematographer Ricardo Diaz who creates striking images of beauty and horror.

What Doesn’t: The fatal flaw of 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that it simply is not scary. The movie doesn’t have an atmosphere of dread. The set pieces don’t have any suspense and the picture lacks energy. The distinguishing feature of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was its sense of nihilism and chaos. Everything about the 2022 film feels polished, even the gore, and it lacks the primal charge of the 1974 film and some of the better sequels. The movie also suffers from a lack of cohesion. It has a lot of callbacks to the original picture but few make any sense. 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre borrows from 2018’s Halloween by bringing back Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouere), the surviving character from the original picture. Sally’s return is forced and unnecessary. Her story doesn’t come to any meaningful conclusion. That’s also true of many other elements of this film. The conflict between rural and urban characters and overt references to the phenomenon of mass shootings and the trauma of surviving a mass casualty event all come to nothing.

DVD extras: Available on Netflix.

Bottom Line: There have been a lot of sequels to 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2022 film is far from the worst entry in the franchise. But it’s not very scary. The movie is a grab bag of gore, callbacks, and half-developed ideas.

Episode: #892 (February 27, 2022)