‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’: Blood, gore and really fun horror
Justin George | Monday, February 21, 2022
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is the ninth film of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) franchise and third film to bear its name. (Seriously, stop naming sequels the same thing as the original.) The “plot” follows a group of influencers who buy up the majority of a small town in rural Texas to … do something involving food trucks? It’s never really explained, and the rest of the film really just ignores this, so you can too. Long story short, the young, stupid kids with big dreams anger Leatherface (Mark Burnham), who has been in hiding since the events of the 1974 classic and a bloodbath ensues. Listen, we’re not here for plot or character development or any of that nonsense, where here for a massacre involving a chainsaw that takes place in Texas, and all three of those requirements are fulfilled in spades. If you want a thought-provoking character study, find another flick.
For those of you still with me, let’s dive into the gory details of this splatterfest. Despite bearing the same name as Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece, this film could not possibly feel more different. The Cinema Verite style, the grimy 16mm feel, the sheer grossness and the oppressive heat found in the original TCM is gone. Instead, we get gorgeous digital cinematography, gloriously gory kills and a rainy night in Texas. This entry into the TCM franchise dares to go beyond the “don’t go in the house” style of the other entries, instead opting to follow the route of other slasher films and have Leatherface take a more active role than a simple burly enforcer who bends to the will of others. It’s the perfect mix of early-2000s gore, late 2010s slasher revival and the legacy of the original.
Now, onto the important part: The kills. This film is absolutely brutal, which is no surprise given that it was produced by Fede Alverez, the madman behind the 2013 “Evil Dead” reboot. The effects are a brilliant combination of CGI and practical effects, which gives the gore a stylized, yet realistic feel. This film is not for the faint of heart, I found myself wincing at some of the injuries depicted onscreen. The violence is visceral — the kind of stuff you feel deep in your gut as you watch it unfold. The characters are not just killed, they are maimed. That’s not to say, however, that this film isn’t a ton of fun for seasoned horror fans. There is a standout scene involving a bus that, barring bad dialogue, is perhaps the most entertaining scene in the entire film.
Horror isn’t just about bloody violence, it’s also about tension. While the 1974 “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” is hard to measure up to, 2022’s “TCM” is not short on dramatic tension, albeit a different kind. The original has this frenetic energy that makes you feel like you’re involved in the action. The 2022 reboot has a classic slasher tension, including some moments where you feel like if you breathe too loudly, you’ll put the characters at risk.
I’m gonna level with you. I thought I was going to hate this movie, as I did with “Halloween Kills,” but I was pleasantly surprised when a smile appeared on my face as the credits rolled. By all accounts, it makes no sense that I actually enjoyed this film. I’ll be the first to admit that it has plenty of issues from dialogue that sounds like it was ripped from a Twitter thread to a sheer lack of character development to a weird plot point involving a gun, but I had so much fun watching this film that I’m willing to overlook these flaws. It’s no masterpiece, but for an 80-minute gorefest starring one of my favorite horror icons, how could I possibly complain?
Title: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”
Director: David Blue Garcia
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Sarah Yarkin, Mark Burnham
If You Like: “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” “Halloween” (2018), “Evil Dead”
Where To Watch: Netflix
Shamrocks: 3 out of 5