If the 2020’s have brought us anything (in addition to a global pandemic, inflation, war, etc.) it’s the advent of the “requel”. These films, typically years (decades) after their original predecessors are essentially sequels to the originals that essentially ignore the majority of their franchises previous entries. Some of these films do it better than others but they’re all attempting to do one thing – cash in on nostalgia and potentially grow a new audience.
Insert Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) directed by David Blue Garcia, with a screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin, from a story by Fede Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues. It is a direct sequel to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and yet it is the ninth installment of the franchise. It stars Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Moe Dunford, Nell Hudson, Jessica Allain, Olwen Fouéré, Jacob Latimore, and Alice Krige.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released direct to Netflix in February, 2022. As you can imagine that’s generally not a great sign and thus far most of the reviews have been negative. Are they right? Let’s take a look.
SPOILER ALERT: This review will talk openly about plot points of the film. If you want to be totally spoiler free skip this review until you’ve watched it. You’ve been warned.
I’ve got to preface this by saying I’m not the biggest Texas Chainsaw fan you’ll run across. I appreciate the original but don’t hold it in the high esteem that many horror fans do. I’ve seen most (?) of the sequels but honestly couldn’t tell you a ton about them. The one that I remember the most is the 2013 3D entry aptly named Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). I’m going to format my review of this one the same way I did that one.
With a runtime of just 81 minutes this is a quick hitter. That being said, the first 20 minutes or so are really slow. Our chainsaw fodder, who appear to be social influencers and have a shit ton of money, travel to the abandoned Texas town of Harlow with eyes on creating a utopian city with no crime where they can live the good life. While inspecting the local orphanage, they discover an old woman is still living there. We come to find out she’s Leatherface’s caretaker. Stuff happens, she has a heart attack and dies in the ‘ambulance’ on the way to the hospital.
Leatherface (though we’re not told his name until MUCH further into the film), goes berserk and kills everyone in the ambulance returning to Harlow. By this point we’ve bussed in another group of ‘investors’ in the town. He mows them down (after they conveniently all got onto the bus). It’s a BRUTAL scene that starts out pretty hilariously with them all raising their phones to video him and threatening to ‘cancel’ him.
Along the way we’ve been re-introduced to original TCM final girl Sally who’s gone on to become a legit Texas Ranger. Apparently she’s been searching for Leatherface these last 50 years. When they finally meet up she holds him at gunpoint, demanding he remembers the pain he inflicted on her and her friends. He clearly doesn’t give a shit as he walks away without even killing her.
In the end, he does kill her and we get a showdown with our final girls, Lila and Melody. More horror ensues and eventually we end the film with an homage to the original with Lila driving away (in her self driving car) with Leatherface dancing in the street with his chainsaw.
We do get a post credit scene (thanks to Marvel for this trend) with Leatherface making his way to his family house where his original massacre took place.
There’s a bunch of other details in here including a school shooting subplot, some commentary about social media influencers, gentrification of areas, a smidge of racism and some additional social commentary but most of it misses the mark even if they’re saying some good things.
I didn’t talk much about most of these characters cause, with the exception of Lila there’s really not much to say. They’re really here to die, and they die in some really inventive and gory ways. Lila was involved in a school shooting earlier in her life and they’re trying to weave in that story with some commentary about gun control. It’s fine but didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Leatherface is played by Mark Burnham and he does an admirable job. He’s clearly a huge guy and he pulls off the physicality of the role perfectly. Not a whole lot of ‘acting’ to be done with this version of Leatherface and I can say he didn’t detract from the film at all.
In fact, the acting here is pretty decent all around, though they’ve got a pretty flimsy plot / dialogue to work with.
This is where the film shines. It’s got some INCREDIBLY gruesome and gory deaths that many of the previous entries of the franchise miss. Seems like lots of practical affects here with just a shit ton of blood as you’d imagine when you’ve got a guy chainsawing people in half. The scene on the bus that I mentioned earlier evokes the club scene in Blade or The Collection it’s so bloody. I do like that not EVERY kill here comes with a chainsaw… in fact some of my favorites don’t involve power tools at all.
The kills are filmed really well too. Not much, if anything, is done off screen. There’s a couple of times where I was surprised things WEREN’T kill shots but those are done primarily for effect and at least once for story purposes.
If the kills are where this film shines, this is where it falls apart. We’re really supposed to care about Sally (the TCM final girl) and her ‘journey’ to kill Leatherface. The problem is… they don’t give us a reason to give a shit. This isn’t a Laurie Strode / Michael Myers situation where we CARE about the final girl. I’ll be honest… I couldn’t have even told you Sally’s name prior to this film and it’s not even the same actress. Though, once again if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t know if it was. That’s not to say this actress didn’t do a fine job… she did. This sub plot was so rushed that it was really tough to care. She wasn’t even introduced until more than halfway through the movie and she was dead within a few minutes of seeing Leatherface again. Meh.
Just a general note about the timeline of this franchise. It’s more convoluted at this point than the Halloween franchise. This is the second (at least) film that’s suggested to be a sequel to the original, completely ignoring anything that’s come before it. That’s fine but what it leads to is watching these films simply as one-off horror films rather than a part of some larger universe. For me, not really being a fan of the TCM franchise that’s not an issue at all.
I’m going to copy / paste my thoughts from my Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) review:
I can’t say this is a great horror movie. I can’t even say it was one of the best of the Texas Chainsaw series. What I can say was that I had a good time watching it. With the exception of a couple of really big plot issues, this one moved along pretty quickly. The setup is rather quick and as soon as we get to Texas things really start to pick up. I love the fact that the filmmakers tried to make a direct sequel to the original and even though there’s nothing here we really haven’t seen before it’s done pretty well. Fans of the series will be happy to see a decent entry in the franchise and while gore hounds may be disappointed in the lack of blood and guts, horror fans have seen much worse and will probably get a kick out of this one. I’d say skip the 3D prices, go grab some popcorn and sit back and enjoy.
With the exception of the 3D references, I would say just about the same for this film. This one is FAR better from a kills, blood and gore perspective and is filmed really well. The fact that Texas Chainsaw (2022) went directly to Netflix was sort of a bad sign but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the reviews I’ve seen make it out to be. As long as you go into it with proper expectations (low) you may be pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure how we deem the success / failure of movies that go directly to Netflix. I’d personally say that I don’t need any more from the TCM franchise but it wouldn’t shock me if we see another entry a few years from now. Mild recommend if you’re looking for a ‘turn your brain off and watch stuff splatter’ film.
Have you seen Texas Chainsaw (2022)? What’d you think? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!