Director: David Blue Garcia
Writer: Chris Thomas Devlin
Starring: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Moe Dunford, Neil Hudson, Jessica Allain, Olwen Fouéré, Jacob Latimore, and Alice Krige
Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974 is one of the best horror films ever made, almost fifty years on and it still holds up with one of the creepiest and unsettling atmospheres ever. The new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, out now on Netflix, fails to deliver anything close to the original. Instead, it’s a hollow gore fest which somehow makes it’s under seventy-five-minute run time (if you don’t include the almost ten minutes of credits and a short post-credit scene) feel like three hours. It’s absolute trash.
It’s been almost fifty years since Leatherface (Played here by Mark Burnham) and his family butchered Sally Hardesty’s (Olwen Fouéré, the only survivor of the original) friends. The massacre has turned into a legend and a tourist attraction with local shops selling souvenirs. A group of young entrepreneurs have bought the town of Harlow in Texas to sell it on to people as a chance for a fresh start. They find that the town isn’t deserted, but instead Mrs. Mc (Alice Krige) is still living in the orphanage taking care of Leatherface. The new arrivals clash with Mrs. Mc, causing her to have a heart attack and die on route to the hospital, causing Leatherface to seek revenge.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts off well, with a quick catch up by narration from John Larroquette, who did the opening narration for the original and remake. It tries to recapture the feel and style that the original had, with a group of young people travelling to a place they are less than welcome. The first ten minutes or so are promising, setting up the scene and victims of Leatherface’s next massacre. Then Leatherface starts killing, first by snapping someone’s wrist and using their bone to stab them in the throat and it just gets sillier from there.
The people don’t act like humans. One of the newcomers travels with Mrs. Mc to the hospital after her heart attack. Why? Because otherwise she wouldn’t witness Leatherface snap. There’s a scene in a bus where a group of influencers instantly get their phones out to threaten to ‘cancel’ Leatherface, because that’s how the youths of today would act. Sally reappears in a poor imitation of Laurie Strode from Halloween (2018), after being haunted by Leatherface in the half a century since. She has a chance to shoot him, but instead asks him to say her name, and lets him walk off. She’s then almost instantly butchered herself. It’s just dumb people getting killed for an hour and a quarter.
The original didn’t show much gore, letting you imagine the worst of what was happening. The new one instead goes full force, there’s heads being caved in, people being sliced up. There are some inventive and fun violence, with some reasonable effects. Sadly, the violence doesn’t feel meaty, for lack of a better word. The chainsaw slices through everything as if it was butter, it doesn’t feel like people are actually being sliced up.
What’s worse than that is that there is absolutely nothing scary in the entire film. The characters aren’t engaging enough for you to care that they’re going to die. There’s no overwhelming atmosphere of dread or tension that puts you on edge. Even the killings, as inventive as they are, don’t feel real enough to make you squirm. It doesn’t work as a horror film, and the moments of attempted humour don’t work either.
Something more of a pet peeve, but the title of the film continues the trend of making a sequel to the original, and yet calling it the same or a very similar name. Halloween, Scream, Candyman; they’re all guilty of the same thing and it just feels lazy. At one point this was going to get a cinema release, but due to delays and the pandemic it was moved to Netflix, which is probably where it belongs. Something that will be forgotten about in a week’s time. Overall Texas Chainsaw Massacre is awful and not a patch on the original.
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