Everything old is new again, or so they say, but I think in the case of horror films lately – everything can be recycled and repackaged for the new generation whilst attempting lip service to rope in fans of the OG; and for many horror lovers, that’s a concept that’s rotting on the vine.
Ostensibly a sequel to the original (don’t try to make the timeline or the storyline make sense, it will just hurt your brain) this sequel succumbs to the annoying trend most recently used by Scream (5) of having the same title as the far better original. Thus forcing the viewer to use the year when talking about this particular film.
So this is a review of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022.
This is a reboot sequel, I refuse to use the term ‘requel’ because it was invented by Scream 5, and that piece of trash does not deserve the notoriety of having created a word that is now part of the collective consciousness.
I love the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it has so much to say about the way we treat animals, the nuclear family, mental health; it is clever in its restraint, the terror you see on the screen is visceral and real but rarely does it revel in exploitation – its truly quite the achievement. My biggest issue with all the remakes and reboots is that the screenplays always want to focus on the gore (for a film with chainsaw massacre in the title, the original actually has very little gore – a truth most of the people making the reboots/sequels ignore) and forget the social commentary that made the first film so unique and vital. This film does little to remedy that – it either heavy-handedly presents cancel culture as a thing to be snuffed out, and only lightly touches on gentrification – without taking a stand or a viewpoint on either issue – a tad cowardly in my book.
IMDB summarises this film thusly – ‘After 50 years of hiding, Leatherface returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town’. This is an accurate, bare bones description of what takes place, but the questions it creates are hard to shake whilst watching the movie.
Essentially two sisters (one a victim of a school shooting tragedy) and their group of friends who oddly want to create some kind of hipster mecca in a rundown and remote Texas town, create enemies from the get-go because they are outsiders and a bit too happily positive – how dare they! After one of the friends throws his weight around a bit too much which results in an elderly ladies eviction and she passes away from an undisclosed heart condition aggravated by the stress, Leatherface (who was in her charge) becomes enraged and decides to just straight up kill everyone. Somewhere along the way a townsperson thinks to call up the original’s ’final girl’ Sally Hardesty (now played by Olwen Fouere after Marilyn Chambers passed away) who arrives to get revenge… or something. The sisters, Melody and Lila, are played by Sarah Yarkin and the talented Elsie Fisher, who definitely pull their weight and are the kind of characters I want to survive – they care about each other and fight like hell. I hated the denouement of this movie and would have enjoyed it much more had it not done such a disservice to these well-rounded characters.
The direction by David Blue Garcia is effective and does create some nice tension, I did feel quite on the edge of my seat once or twice which is not common for me. The deaths, were mostly eye-wateringly good and anatomically correct but the bus massacre was stupid and a bit too mean-spirited for my taste, we are meant to hate people just for being affluent and culturally aware now?
The big problem here is the script and the many MANY implausibilites. Starting with Leatherface himself – what happened to his family from the original? how was he hidden after the brazen attacks of the first film? and the big one – how is he running about hefting a chainsaw when he would now be in his 80s??? There is absolutely no way his body would be capable of doing the things he does here. Leatherface was always a damaged, almost sad individual who only hurt the people who kept invading his home, he didn’t go on rampages. The lack of knowledge the film-makers display about their own characters is disheartening to say the least.
Then there’s Sally – after the original films condemnation of our practice of eating meat and the terror she went through they make her a pig farmer? really? Not to mention that the character from the original was totally broken by her experiences, there’s no way she would grow up to be some kickass sexagenarian just waiting to kill him, and if she had, would she spend the whole movie just wanting him to “say my name” before she did so? And how did she not know where he was all that time when everyone is still in the same town?
For fans who had embraced the character of Sally in the original film, in all her messiness and pure terror, this new tough-talking cypher of a survivalist is pretty insulting. This would not be the natural progression of that character, it just doesn’t fit, and the obvious way they tried to shoehorn her into the narrative to pull in a crowd, is transparent and cynical.
Personally I’m tired of horror treating trauma, women’s trauma in particular, as some kind of personality trait – a character building exercise that only makes you stronger. It’s verging on suffer-porn and fetishising, and the reverence with which it is regularly presented is fairly disturbing.
This film is dumb, its bombastic and bloody and annoying in many ways, but I have to admit I had a good time with it, and I enjoyed it a lot more than the terrible Scream 5 and Halloween Kills.
With that in mind I will give it a good score. Go in expecting numbskull logic and you might enjoy it on that level.
Its crap, but its entertaining crap.