REVIEW: Latest ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ is a total mess

This franchise has really only had one good sequel and that one had someone dual-wielding chainsaws. Something this movie, among other things, lacks.

“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is supposed to be a direct sequel to the 1974 horror classic, ignoring all of the other pictures in the series. The film is set nearly 50 years after the original picture, and picks up with a group of young adults moving to a small, rural Texas town.

There, they plan to invite several other young professionals to revitalize a dilapidated community. Unfortunately, their presence ends up disturbing the fearsome killer Leatherface, who’s been in hiding since the conclusion of the first movie.

I’m sorry if this review sounds a bit bias, but I can’t help it much. “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is one of my favorite horror films of all time. Sadly, I can’t really say that about other movies in the franchise.

As said in the lede, “Massacre” only had one sequel that was enjoyable, which was its direct sequel from 1986. That movie was a horror comedy, and helmed by the director of the original, Tobe Hooper.

Since then, there have been a slew of sequels and remakes, with the quality ranging from alright to downright awful. The latest attempt, now on Netflix, is another downright awful example.

Perhaps the most glaring issue of this latest “Massacre” movie is it doesn’t really seem like part of the franchise. The picture bends over backwards trying to make it feel like it fits, but the approach is off.

The 2022 film plays out like a generic slasher movie, with the antagonist Leatherface acting like any other big guy with a brutal weapon. What made the original film work so well, was how it showed Leatherface as simply a cog in a larger machine.

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Courtesy Netflix.

He was part of a family of cannibals, and was often just used as the group’s muscle when needed. There are moments in the first movie that show Leatherface after one of the killings freaking out about so many people barging into his house, he actually appears frightened. This film lacks that nuance.

It’s fair to want to do something new with the villain, considering many of the other sequels and remakes have tried to repeat the crazy family bit to varying levels of success. But simply thrusting Leatherface into the role he’s in during this latest movie seems wrong.

Hell, even the 2013 picture, which wasn’t all that good, at least tried to hold on to that family element while still doing something new. The attempt was pretty botched, but it at least showed more ambition than this latest entry did.

In the new film, Leatherface is simply “awakened” by some new people in town like a generic slasher, and this time it’s pretty much just him on his own. From there, it goes through the expected motions.

It’s also massively disappointing how the film handles one of the biggest ties to the original film, the character Sally (Olwen Fouere). Sally was the lone survivor last time around and, taking a page out of the 2018 “Halloween” movie, has her prepared to hunt down Leatherface in this follow-up.

This time around, she’s a Texas Ranger, but apparently not a great detective because after 50 years she couldn’t find the guy who killed her brother and friends. Her whole character journey in this movie is honestly insulting to the 1974 classic.

As for the new characters, they’re all fairly straightforward horror bait, except for Lila, the youngest of the bunch. The character has a bit more depth, having had past trauma, and it helps to have an actress like Elsie Fisher playing the role.

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On top of being there to get attacked by the chainsaw guy, the rest of the characters in the movie also seem to be a sort of criticism on the younger generation. They’re constantly portrayed as on their phones and seem to have little respect for the history of the small town they go to.

Again, Leatherface seems like the wrong antagonist. A Freddy Krueger or Ghostface type character, who can deliver mocking lines, is so much better suited for something like that, rather than a mute antagonist.

But even if we set all of that aside, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” doesn’t even really succeed as just an average slasher. The movie relies a lot on gore, but it’s not all that impressive.

Even the film’s biggest set-piece, a slaughter with a lot of characters getting killed on a bus, is rough. That scene has incredibly choppy editing, poor lighting and a lot of CGI blood.

At the very least, one wishes for some gritty and grimy special effects in a “Chainsaw” film. Or, give me something fun and bizarre, like “Malignant.”

“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” doesn’t work as a sequel to the original film, but its status of being a sequel makes it difficult to appreciate as a standalone slasher. The gore has so much CGI that it’s not all that entertaining, either. 1 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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