Mike’s Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by David Blue Garcia.

In 1974 we were treated to a gory nightmare that served as a haunting metaphor for the Vietnam War. Now, 48 years later we’re being served a vile and equally nightmarish metaphor for class war and the cultural disposability of the elderly. There’s even a nice treatise on the perversion of the current real estate market in the United States.

Director David Blue Garcia even throws in a discussion of gun violence in America, the growing tension between red and blue states, and some light rumination of the country’s history of racial injustice. Sound like too much? Well, it is. 

The big difference between 1974 and 2022? Leatherface is probably closing in on 70, or maybe even 75 or 80 years old. The Texas Chainsaw re-quel is a little hazy on those facts, but it’s safe to say that he’s king old, or as the kids like to say, he’s definitely a “boomer.”

The new age of cinema is unfortunately a gas tank that has run or is running bone dry. Re-quels are a-plenty, but not all are created equal, nor do some of them make a lick of sense. Texas Chainsaw certainly has to concoct some gymnastic storylines to make Leatherface’s disappearance/reappearance make sense, but weirdly the story is not about him, it’s about Sally Hardesty’s (Olwen Fouéré) Laurie Strode-like obsession with the hell he wrought in the early 1970s.

Scary DVDs! Woo!
Sheesh, it’s been 50 years. How does this thing fit?

Sadly, everything you need to know about 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 is laid out in an overly expressive trailer. A gaggle of well-meaning Gen-Z’ers from Austin con a group of equally obtuse youngster-investors to purchase a derelict Texas ranching town in the middle of nowhere. In the process of planning where to place their kombucha store, and whether it should be located immediately adjacent to the comic book store, they inadvertently displace an elderly woman. 

Turns out this elderly woman has been unwittingly (?) housing Leatherface for nearly 50 years. As the owner of the town’s orphanage, she saw something vulnerable in Leatherface (Mark Burnham) and has acted as his guardian lo these many years. While again the timeline is a little hazy, director David Blue Garcia seems to intimate that Leatherface was taken into the orphanage in his mid-20s. While possible, it’s also deeply improbable. 

More problematic than the vague timeline is the fact that you don’t even hear the famed roar of the chainsaw until nearly an hour into the film. What’s the Texas Chainsaw Massacre without chainsaws? It’s still a massacre, but that’s about it. 

This film really stretches the audience’s attention from protagonist to protagonist. With little to no exposition, we’re lead to believe that Sally Hardesty is where our horror-going loyalties should lie, but then we’re whipsawed back to a partial investment in the opportunist hipsters. Neither makes a compelling case and we’re ultimately left with a pile of very unsatisfying guts. 

The story, the corny set, and the deeply uninteresting and undeveloped Sally Hardesty backstory leave us with another thoughtless Netflix spook show. In what amounts to around five lines of dialogue for the Sally Hardesty character, Director David Blue Garcia and writer Fede Alvarez paint an incomplete character study.

What made 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre so bone-chilling was the familial lunacy that begat Leatherface, the horrible killings punctuated with the now-famous audio screech, and the very real possibility that the killings were based on a true story. This 2022 requel delivers on none of these blood-curdling cornerstones.  Even the wonderfully imaginative narrative that features the voice-over return of John Larroquette is pretty mediocre. 

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre requel does contain some vile and repugnant killing. Lots of killing. Not on par with 2021’s Halloween Kills, but awful close. If killing is your thing, by all means, stick around to the very end of the film. The final scene is a wild little bunch of business. So wild that we’re giving this otherwise tepid horror outing an extra half a star. 

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is likely Rated R and currently streaming on Netflix. 

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