Recently, Netflix revived the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise with a new movie. This one was meant to be a sequel of some kind to the original, but it’s unclear where exactly it falls along the timeline of the multiple movies that have been released under the name.
So, how did this reboot of sorts go?
Well, the movie itself was what you’d expect out of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, for better and worse. Let’s talk about why, starting with the former.
Slasher scenes are done well
It’s been almost 50 years since the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, both in real life and in this film. Clearly, resources to make a good movie as a whole have improved significantly since then. This movie does a good job taking advantage of this, and it’s choreographed quite well. In particular, there is one scene where series bad Leatherface (Mark Burnham) pulls someone out of a car by their head, then saws off the body from the neck down and then holds up the head in triumph and as a means to taunt the other person who was with them. Overall, editing was fairly good in this one, which gave it the edge it needed to be a good slasher movie.
It would hardly be a movie worth writing about were it not for the man himself. Here, Leatherface is actually shown off quite early in the film, which is unusual for the franchise. However, it ends up working out quite well, perhaps because the movie isn’t loaded with cheesy jump scares all the time, but I digress.
The story around him isn’t fleshed out for the most part, but it does include one key thing that gives him more character than just a guy who likes to kill people. With his mother wrongfully forced out of her own house, Leatherface is upset at how is family is being handled by law enforcement and this is the catalyst to him going on his grisly rampage. Of course, it’s awfully difficult to justify a gory murder spree like the one he goes on here, but it really calls into attention how generally misguided and oddly well intentioned he is. Just like the first movie, Leatherface doesn’t really fit well into a social environment because he was poorly raised by a neglectful family. He does, however, have a large attachment to everyone in his family, and thus becomes quite territorial.
Given his lack of education and self-awareness, Leatherface probably believes that what he’s doing is the morally righteous thing — defending his family from people who seek to harm them, such as when his mother is unfairly evicted from a home she had every right to own. This important secondary element to his character is on display here in a creative way.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t perfect either. Let’s talk about its shortcomings.
Leatherface seriously needs the Michael Myers treatment
When Michael Myers survives being lit on fire, gunned down by a firing squad, blown up by dynamite and being repeatedly stabbed and burned by a large angry mob, there’s actually a lore-built explanation for this. Myers is the physical incarnation of evil, a construct in nature, so he can’t actually die. Of course, the real reason for this development was more than likely an endeavor at being able to produce multiple Halloween movies without addressing obvious logical hurdles. After all, Myers may be bigger and buffer than the average man, but being decently fit doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Any man, big or small, will fall like a bag of potatoes if they get shot in the chest a few times.
Likewise, Leatherface is one big, strong dude. I wouldn’t pick a fight with him, chainsaw or no chainsaw. Yet, in this movie, he survives being shot in the chest by a shotgun three times, stabbed repeatedly and drowned for several minutes. Unlike Myers though, Leatherface has never been established as supernatural in anyway. He may be a big guy, but that’s all he is — a beefy guy with otherwise human traits. So he shouldn’t be able to take shotgun shells to the chest and manage to run up to the offender to butcher them as if they were firing blanks.
The simple solution would be to spend a few minutes during the next Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie establishing that Leatherface is immortal somehow. There would be limitless creative freedom to get this done, as Halloween has proven, and it would help to not have immersion get broken every time Leatherface gets hit by something that should be lethal.
This is a niche product at the end of the day
Yes, the story in this movie is bland and isn’t fleshed out in the slightest. However, it’s hard to really objectively point to that being a bad thing, as there has never really been that solid of a story across this franchise to begin with. It zeroes in on being as graphic as possible with the countless death scenes across the movie, intent on horrifying and scaring the audience. As such, if you’re the type who enjoys a good story, this movie won’t be for you at all.
Ultimately, Texas Chainsaw Massacre by Netflix isn’t a bad movie. However, it doesn’t really bring anything to the table that’s new. It does a good job showing off how modern resources can make the overall quality higher of films in this franchise, but other than that, this is a fairly unremarkable movie that will barely serve as a footnote in the horror genre as a whole.
Because it doesn’t excel or fail at anything in particular, I’m going to give the movie a C+.