Looking to revive a ghost town with a young, fresh concept, a group of city folks will discover the town’s center houses one last tenant — the maniacal, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is a refreshed direct follow-up to the 1974 original. While the idea could work as a way to modernize the classic slasher, it falls short in terms of story, performance, and even horror.
It’s been 50 years since a masked madman went on a rampage and murdered a group of friends in the remote farmlands of Texas. The sole survivor, Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), has spoken very little about the events, but it continues to be a small local legend. Despite the dark history, the abandoned town of Harlow is about to be revived by friends and business partners Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Dante (Jacob Latimore).
They see it as great potential for their restaurant and other businesses to thrive away from the fast-paced nature of Austin. Melody also hopes it’s a safer place for her little sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), a survivor of a deadly school shooting.
While waiting for a group of investors to arrive, they discover an old woman named Ginny is still living in the former orphanage with her burly “son”. When an argument breaks out over who owns the property, Ginny experiences a medical crisis that unleashes the fury of Leatherface.
Where should I even begin with the issues in this film? To start, the concept of entrepreneurs wanting to revive a dead town is a very workable idea. The problem is that it’s not given enough time to breathe and develop. We’re missing more context and character development before the killings begin. It gives viewers very little in terms of connecting with these victims.
Even for Lila, a school shooting survivor whose trauma seems to be a major potential theme, we’re instead left with an underdeveloped notion that never hits its full impactful potential. And the bond she begins to form with another character is rushed and voided by the film moving too fast.
The pacing is a big problem with this film. At under an hour and a half, it tries to speed through so much that it’s entirely forgettable. It doesn’t necessarily need to be longer, but by not focusing on the more important parts, the film dilutes the build-up of any terror and lacks real frightful moments. The kills are sometimes brutal but often hurried through. Not one is memorable enough to stay with you after the film, or even during viewing.
The characters are also so foolish, to an overwhelmingly frustrating level. It goes beyond any horror cliches and is just there to induce eye-roll after eye-roll. The writers failed to create any strong character that is even remotely aware. The way no one ever seems to be in a rush despite a chainsaw-swinging killer coming in hot.
For a Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this film is dull and uninspired. While we don’t need these films to be “smart” per se, the fact that it lacks terror would hopefully mean a little more in terms of plot development. But no.
I haven’t even mentioned how it fails to really tie to the original to make it feel like a successful enough follow-up, one that is allowed to retcon any of the other previous films. And with the wasted return of Sally Hardesty who’s written as an idiotic, weak character. It’s just all so irritating.
The only upside is that this is available on Netflix so you won’t be wasting your money, just your time.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available now on Netflix