‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Review: Leatherface Returns in Requel
By Daniel Rester
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the latest horror “requel” to come along, following films like Halloween (2018), Candyman (2021), and Scream (2022). This new trend sees producers rebooting a horror series with a sequel that mostly or totally ignores the other sequels and is instead a years-later continuation of the original film. Though Halloween is usually credited with popularizing this trend in 2018, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series actually tried this first with the abysmal Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). And now the series is trying it again.
This 2022 version, written by Chris Thomas Deviln and directed by David Blue Garcia (from a story by Evil Dead (2013) and Don’t Breathe (2016) team Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues), finds a group of young entrepreneurs heading to rural Texas nearly 50 years after the events of the original film. The group wants to turn the dusty town of Harlow into a gentrified area for trendsetters. Mel (Sarah Yarkin) drags her nervous sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), a shooting survivor, along for the ride.
It turns out that Leatherface (Mark Burnham) is living in Harlow, hiding out at an orphanage. After a disagreement occurs and someone ends up dead, Leatherface snaps and gets his chainsaw revving again. As he hunts down the newcomers, Leatherface is tailed himself as final girl Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré) seeks her long-awaited revenge.
Garcia’s film is now the ninth in the series. While the original 1974 Tobe Hooper film is a terrifying horror classic, most of the other entries have been mediocre to bad. The Hooper sequel from 1986 and the remake from 2003 are really the only worthwhile ones of the bunch after the original. Unfortunately, Garcia’s film ends up in the middle of the mediocre pack, being a mixed-bag entry with some thrills but also some terrible decisions.
Shot by Ricardo Diaz, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 is certainly one of the best looking entries in the series. There are some genuinely great images involving silhouettes, dry fields, and rainfall. Garcia and Diaz also stage and frame the carnage well. The kills in the film are brutal, with one involving a wrist and another involving a bus that are particularly memorable. This is one of the more savage Leatherfaces that we have gotten.
The acting across the board is surprisingly strong too. Fisher fits well as unconventional final girl Lila, while Moe Dunford turns “dumb Texan” Richter into someone beyond his surface. A scene shared between the two is one of the better character-driven moments of the movie.
While Garcia’s film highlights its gentrification theme decently, it fumbles some other aspects. The social media and school shooting angles it tries to work into the plot feel shallow. As does Sally’s mission, with the character shoehorned into the film and being arguably the dumbest victim along the way. Sally is severely lacking as she mostly just shows up to look at a picture in a few scenes before suddenly joining the climax. What a way to treat a legacy final girl.
At just 81 minutes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is too short and underwritten. The character relationships are basic and Leatherface’s placement in the setting feels oddly written. The blood and gore scenes, while intense at times, are never very scary and rely too heavily on CGI. Predictable plot turns and annoying supporting characters don’t help either.
Garcia’s requel isn’t a triumphant return, but it also isn’t as terrible as some of the other entries in the series. Slasher fans get some solid cinematography and kill scenes at least. The film doesn’t even come close to capturing the strange, sweaty fury of the 1974 original though. Few films ever do.
My Grade: 5.5/10 (letter grade equivalent: C+)
Running Time: 1h 21min