Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Dir. David Blue Garcia (2022)
A group of millennials try to revamp a small Texas town into a gentrified tourist attraction. Unfortunately, Leatherface is having absolutely none of that shit.
Let’s all be honest with ourselves for a second: there was no way a lot of people weren’t going to absolutely hate this movie. The Texas Chainsaw franchise has had far more terrible movies than it has good ones, and it’s one of the best examples in the slasher genre of the law of diminishing returns. There are people who unironically love all of them, and even more that ironically love a few of them, but for a franchise containing one of the greatest American movies ever made (and I’m not talking about the Jessica Biel remake, in spite of The Morrigan’s girlcrush on the lead and complete enjoyment of the movie), it’s got a terrible track record. To bring back Sally Hardesty to fight the man behind the mask made of flesh? Nah, there was no way this one was going to be successful. Putting aside the potential for irreverence towards the original, though? This movie fucking rocks.
Let me count the ways that this movie is waaaaay better than people give it credit for:
1.) The kills are fucking insane. Granted, the Chainsaw franchise is known for more subtlety when it comes to its kills, most notably the almost-bloodless original, but the kills in Texas Chainsaw Massacre are batshit crazy and far more brutal than anything Jason Voorhees ever managed. When Leatherface takes his titular chainsaw to a busload of woke young adults, it’s perhaps the biggest win for the Fox News crowd since they decided to run a circus clown for President.
2.) The gore in this movie manages to bring Leatherface firmly into the 21st century. For a mainstream movie, the effects and blood in this film are some of the best I’ve seen in a while. There were multiple moments where they dared you to look away, delivering a polar-opposite film to the legendary beginning of the franchise. The film is also updated politically as well, subverting expectations of the local townspeople while critiquing today’s custom of vilifying people without even finding out if they fit your preconceived notions first. Yeah, maybe Texas isn’t always the utopia its giant-hat-wearing locals pretend it to be, and yeah, maybe their power grid just sometimes, like, doesn’t work. But not everyone there is a backwards racist redneck. Some of them are just backwards rednecks, thank you very much.
3.) The critiques of the movie are almost completely inaccurate. It was, for a while, the thing to do to hate on this movie. Half of the people seemed to criticize the “woke” agenda, yet ignored the fact that the woke people almost universally get beheaded. Others liked to hate on the new Sally Hardesty, which is fair to a certain extent but ignores her place as a final girl in the original: Sally does not escape unharmed, and doesn’t get to go about her life. She’s clearly traumatized as all fuck riding in the back of that truck, and depicting her as a sheriff of a small town who ran away from the world around her seems pretty damn close to reality to me. Speaking of reality, the loudest critique of the film often has to do with the movie’s lack of realism, from Sally’s eventual disembowelment to the behaviors of certain characters within. It’s an absurd commentary, especially considering that the original film was about an entire family of cannibals whose head was an almost literal vampire, a geriatric sack of skin who could no longer move and drank blood, as well as a man who routinely walked around wearing the face of other humans and everyone in the town that wasn’t part of the family seemed totally okay with that.
Look, is Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre a brilliant film? No, not at all. Is it a groundbreaking movie that rewrites an entire genre of American cinema? Not even close. But is it a damn fun watch that is easily the third best movie in the entire franchise, and perhaps even second? Hell yes it is. It’s a retread of a stale franchise, a movie that shows that Netflix has the guts to put out a movie that’s going to piss people off, and has as much or more gore than any slasher movie in existence. For my money, you can’t get a whole lot better than that, and the only critique that’s relevant is that we’ll more than likely never be able to own a physical copy.
Who this movie is for: Gore fans, Slasher lovers, People who can forget nostalgia and appreciate a fun movie
Bottom line: While not even close in quality to the original, Texas Chainsaw Massacre was oh-so-much-better than it was given credit for. It’s a gory fun thrill ride with plenty of chopped-off appendages and rolling heads that will appease even the most ardent gorehound. It’s brutal, funny at times, and, most importantly, watchable, which is something that can hardly be said for some of the other movies in the franchise. Put your expectations and fondness for the original aside and give it a shot. If you didn’t like it the first time, try to resist the urge to compare it to one of the greatest films in American history and just enjoy it for what it is.