Released: 18th February
Seen: 20th February
There has been a trend in horror films lately where a classic slasher franchise will do a sequel starring the original cast set about 40 years after the original film that ignores every other sequel that came before it. This trend has given us absolutely brilliant films like the 2018 Halloween and it’s given us reasons to despise the very concept of cinema with things like I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu. It’s a high risk-high reward concept because it will pull in fans who want a heavy hit of pure nostalgia but you then have to give them a film that somehow honours the original while also being something new and fun. Texas Chainsaw Massacre does none of that, it just exists in a boring way that makes me wonder why this franchise keeps on going.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre picks up nearly 50 years after the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and ignores everything that came afterwards or was revealed in the recent remakes. Also, the events of this film take place in a little town called Harlow, not anywhere near the house that’s famously part of this franchise, where a group of 20 somethings have somehow bought up a whole bunch of houses that were left abandoned and plan on gentrifying them so they can make money. While this gaggle of annoying young adults do this, they stumble upon a home containing an elderly woman who is clearly in need of medical help and her son, who is large and obviously Leatherface without the face (yet – he will fix this later on).
Due to reasons, the kids get this elderly woman pulled from her home and the stress of it causes her to have a heart attack while being driven away by police, which in turn makes the obvious Leatherface do obvious Leatherface things like murder a bunch of people for no damn reason. Also for no reason, the kids who came into this town can’t leave because their keys were taken because they “Killed that old lady” and now Leatherface wants to kill them all and I am exceptionally tired right now and would like a glass of warm milk and a nap because Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just not good.
Even fans of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise will readily admit that the timeline is an absolute mess and that it can sometimes get a little silly. With that in mind, I can get how doing just a direct sequel to the original might sound like a good idea. Not only is it the current trend in horror but it also lets you try and reset a franchise that has gone off the rails, I get how that would be appealing to someone but god damn it, there is no way this is actually a real sequel to the original film. This feels like someone wrote a really shitty Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel and then threw Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the only survivor of the original film, in so they could chase a trend.
Sally honestly is the most pointless addition to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though without her this would just be a regular sequel. She adds nothing whatsoever to the plot, doesn’t get a cathartic moment of beating Leatherface and often just acts incredibly stupid on a level that she frankly shouldn’t be… also, any fans of this franchise will know that the actual original Sally Hardesty, Horror Icon Marilyn Burns, passed away in 2014 so we don’t even get the grand moment of the original person turning up. No, we only know this is Sally because they keep insisting it is despite not looking or acting a damn thing like her.
You might also notice I haven’t mentioned a single name of any of the other characters and that’s because no one cares about them, they’re chainsaw fodder meant to exist for just long enough that the 50 year old chainsaw can split them in half. None of them have interesting characters or lines (except the “Try anything and you’re cancelled bro” line but that’s less interesting and more made me want to set my hair on fire) and none of them made me root for them. Here’s how forgettable they are, when I was talking about this film minutes after watching it on twitter one of my mutuals had to remind me that the main character is a school shooting survivor… should’ve been something that was easy to remember, so bland I couldn’t even tell you their name let alone that key piece of information.
The entire point of having these young adult characters in a slasher movie is to either to make them so fun and likeable that I want them to survive (or feel horrible when they don’t) or push them so far in the other direction so their eventual death is a cathartic fun moment where the audience gets to cheer over a douchebag getting impaled on something pointy… here, they’re so bland that I didn’t give a damn either way.
It sucks to not actually care about any of the characters because as a pure gorefest, Texas Chainsaw Massacre does deliver on the visceral shock. Sure the original is kind of famous for somehow being completely bloodless but making people believe it’s the goriest thing ever just through clever filmmaking, but if you’re going to go all out with the gore then this is what I want.
The bus sequence, in particular, is just a smorgasbord of elaborate ways to kill people with a chainsaw and I can’t deny a little bit of fun was had, I look forward to seeing which of these things wins a Golden Chainsaw on the Kill Count because it will inevitably be one from this sequence… but then I realise that I’m looking forward to someone else just talking about the kills, I’m not actually enjoying Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a movie that I gave an hour and a half of my life to.
On top of all these big picture problems (boring characters, pointless story, attempt to chase a trend you don’t belong in) there’s a ton of minor issues like stupid character decisions, people somehow surviving things that we have literally seen kill other people in this same movie and just everything to do with Leatherface himself. Sure, he’s physically imposing but he’s just inconsistent and looks so wrong even when he has the mask on, plus apparently, his chainsaw has been stuck in a wall for god knows how long… oh, and did I mention he’s in a little house in the town of Harlow and not in the actual goddamn house that he’s famous for living in? He only goes there in the end credit scene, the original location is a surprise treat for people who watch the end credits scene of a Netflix movie which is exactly no one.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just bad, certainly not the worst sequel that this franchise has ever produced (That’s a LOW bar) but it feels like it’s the most pointless. A trend-chasing bland piece of nothing that maybe offers one good moment and nothing else. It’s not gonna be fun for fans of the original who are going to pick holes in it, it’s not engaging enough to reel in most horror fans and its gore isn’t creative enough to overcome those shortcomings. The only upside is that it’s nice to see Netflix funding R rated gory horror films, maybe next time they’ll fund a better one than this.