VOD film review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
How much you’ll not want to be killed by Leatherface1
How pleased you are for Elsie Fisher being in this1
How much of your subscription you'll want to go to the producers1
Ian Loring | On 19, Feb 2022
Director: David Blue Garcia
Cast: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Alice Krige
After the seminal, textually rich and unforgettably haunting original, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it’s been quite something to see the Texas Chainsaw films go through the dark comic-horror of the 70s, the low-grade-but-with-future-star-actor sequels of the 90s, the horror-remake-obsessed 00s and the 3-D fad of the early 2010s – but it returns now, as Evil Dead remake director Fede Alvarez presents a new look at Leatherface, one which brings the franchise to the 2020s both with a veil of social commentary and following the Halloween model of bringing back an original final girl to go toe-to-toe once more with their terror.
Many of the earlier Chainsaw films felt that they had a point, something that grabbed you and said, “This is why I need to exist now, I have a reason why you should pay attention.” Marcus Nispel’s version from the 2000s commented on the differences in the portrayal of women as the object in horror of the time, which still lingers as interesting though already incredibly outdated. This film attempts to skewer contemporary times, but in ways that feel, at times, surface-level and, at others, also rather retrograde.
The plot involves some influencers and their friends buying up some land and attempting to revive the town as.. some sort of influencer land where the locals aren’t the most welcoming. After kicking the caretaker of an orphanage out of her home, madness soon ensues as Leatherface rears his head. While an interesting thread threatens to unravel, the film’s breathless 76 minutes before the credits doesn’t allow time for us to get any real insight and instead satisfies itself with people not only taking pictures of Leatherface pre-killing – something made clear in the trailer – but also while he’s doing it. Because, you know, people are so glued to their phones that they can’t tell what’s reality. Deep.
What is worse, however, is an aspect involving a victim of gun violence and how she learns to “love” guns again. The film has some odd politics and, while your mileage may vary, it feeds into Alvarez’s penchant for wanting to push buttons without saying anything, just like the insane concept behind his recent production, Don’t Breathe 2.
To try and steer you away further, the film’s USP – the bringing back of original victim Sally Hardesty – brings absolutely nothing of value. Styled almost exactly like Laurie in the 2018 Halloween, she has very little bearing on the plot and at one point seems as if she’s about to open up a twist that could have provoked some more interesting directions, but instead… does not. The publicised firing of the original directorial team and the replacement of them with David Blue Garcia is all over it, with a very short film that feels incredibly unfocused and unsure as to why it exists.
If you do spend your time watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre, stop after the first death. It’s the only thing which has any kind of wit or imagination for the whole runtime.