February 18, 2022

Review: Violent, Gory and Exciting “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is a Legacy Sequel Done Right

Modern horror’s oldest franchise is back, and this time it falls victim to what is rapidly becoming a progressive problem in long-running horror series — it copies another franchise’s story approach. This seems like a bad omen, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre somehow defies all odds and makes it work.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Forgoing decent set-up or too much explanation, Texas Chainsaw Massacre really goes for it. Our main characters, and future corpses, are moneymaker Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) and her partner Dante (Jacob Latimore). They travel to a small Texas town on a business trip, ignoring all omens of doom along the way, and find only violence and blood waiting for them in the form of unhinged cannibal Leatherface (Mark Burnham).

Olwen Fouéré plays Sally Hardesty (the final girl from the 1974 Texas Chain Saw), replacing original star Marilyn Burns, who sadly passed in 2014. Aside from a scant few references in the opening, Sally barely gets any development, and it seems they’ve elected to go virtually the exact same route as 2018’s Halloween, and make Sally a Laurie Strode-esque trauma-inflicted survivor, hell bent on getting her revenge on the hulking, faceless mass of a man who killed all of her friends. However, while Laurie got a passable arc that we can relate to on an emotional level, Sally simply shows up ready to kick ass. This isn’t a problem so much as it is an observation — surprisingly, it doesn’t really impact the story. Perhaps too much focus on Sally would have negatively affected the film, but I guess we’ll never know.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Not to mention that Texas Chainsaw Massacre really earns its title, in ways that the franchise has never done before. There are benefits to being released on streaming television, and the limitless violence is definitely one of them. This film is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Running at an incredibly breezy 83 minutes, Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw doesn’t mess around. It knows why you’re here, and neither hesitates nor holds back — this may be one of the goriest movies I’ve seen in a long time. Regardless, I dug its “no bullshit” attitude and its understanding that it is not here to necessarily develop characters, and it’s not here to make any sort of statement. It’s here to be a fun horror movie that doesn’t need to connect heavily to the rest of the franchise for you to have a good time. We need more beautifully-shot legacy sequels like this. [Grade: B]

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Director: David Blue Garcia

Writer: Chris Thomas Devlin

Starring: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Jacob Latimore, Mark Burnham, Moe Dunford

Rated: R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, and language

Available: Netflix
Fun Fact: The original directors, Ryan and Andy Tohill, were fired one week into production, with their footage scrapped. David Blue Garcia started again from scratch.

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