It is very evident that the creators of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” were inspired by David Gordon Green’s 2018 remake of “Halloween” and believed Leatherface might make a similar comeback. The story of a survivor is once again the focus of the sequel, which omits all of the prequels and remakes except for the original movie. In this instance, Sally Hardesty, the sole survivor of Tobe Hooper’s shattering original, is Olwen Fouéré (replacing Marilyn Burns, who passed away in 2014). The Netflix Original pits them against one another as she searches for the monster who killed her companions for years. Sorta. merely barely The movie by David Blue Garcia is “sorta just barely” everything (other than the gore, which is impressive). It’s one of those movies that has obviously gone through a lot throughout production—there have been rumours of a new directing team and awful test screenings—but it still seems as though it was destined to fail from the start. It’s a striking failure—a film that utterly fails to do practically anything it sets out to do. Better is due to Leatherface.
Unbelievably, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” serves as another gentrification cautionary tale. I am not joking. To renovate the tiny town of Harlow, Texas, Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), and their friend Dante (Jacob Latimore) have travelled to the middle of nowhere. Even a busload of influential people will be brought in to visit the location. (The bus’s side may just as easily read, “Chainsaw Victims”). When they get there, a homeowner (Alice Krige) argues with them right away since she won’t be leaving. She ends up being this situation’s Norma Bates, and when she is ejected from her house, her son Leatherface (Mark Burnham) goes on the attack.
The opening of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is promising. It’s a smart notion that doesn’t work to portray Leatherface as a bogeyman in the middle of Texas, a man who not only inspires dread but also has an odd fan base that buys corkscrews with chainsaws on them. “TCM” keeps bringing things up and then nearly never doing anything with it, which is really annoying. Lila, for instance, survived a school shooting, but this comes out as opportunistic rather than enlightening. Although Hooper’s picture helped define the trope of urban dwellers who are unaware of what awaits them when they leave the security of their house, this one doesn’t bring anything new to the horror genre. It discards that concept as well when it begins to mock social media in one morbidly humorous moment. In a movie that is under 80 minutes long without credits yet drags on for twice as long, everything is superficial.
And that dearth of narrative substance would be acceptable if “TCM” worked well as a horror film. It isn’t. Although there is a lot of blood, the violence is staged and carried out in an uninspiring manner. There is no suspense, tension, or interesting characters. The first film’s concept of common people being thrown into Hell was so powerful in its simplicity, in my opinion, that subsequent filmmakers assumed it would be simple to replicate it. It isn’t. It takes a specific type of instinctive craftsmanship, which Hooper possessed, to infuse such a fundamental idea with tremendous, unyielding dread. Most of his adherents lack the same talent that he has.
Although Garcia and his associates frequently clog his environment with ill-conceived ideas, they don’t really go for that brusque simplicity either. Worst of all, Sally’s storyline devolves into a bland parody of Laurie Strode’s Laurie Strode vengeance story from Green’s “Halloween” film. That movie also abandoned years’ worth of prequels in order to return a series to its origins. The similar attempt is made in “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” which fails miserably upon returning home.