There comes a point in a franchise when naming conventions really don’t work anymore. Think about The Fast and The Furious sequel Fast & Furious or the Halloween remake Halloween, or the other remake, Halloween. Then there is the prequel of 1982’s The Thing, in 2011, The Thing. In this case some listings show this followup to the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022,) in others and the title on the poster, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Perhaps you might think this as unimportant, but as a fan of the original I feel it necessary to use whatever means necessary to distinguish this new outing from the Hooper’s masterpiece.
Being down with reinvention, I have enjoyed some entries into the series over the years. In a nutshell:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Terrifying, raw, disgusting, unnerving and still excellent. Worth it’s notoriety.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – Hated it the first time as I was too young to understand the joke. Subsequent viewings, marvellous.
Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990) – The Viggo one. Slow, boring and … blue.
The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1994) – The McConaughey / Zellweger one. Bit uneven and stupid but the leads keep it interesting.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – The remake and proof that a remake can be done well. Best since the original.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) – Fairly grizzly follow-up and has some very memorable moments. A decent entry.
Texas Chainsaw (2013) – The Scott Eastwood one – I see a lot of hate for this one, but I had a good time with it. Missed the 3D version mind you.
Leatherface (2017) – The prequel and whilst I have seen it, I can remember nothing about it. What does that tell you… yeah, I need to watch it again.
So that brings us to Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022). Netflix attempt to update it to a modern audience with fictional online stars travelling out of their comfort zone to a dusty old town in Texas for a … thing. I think I must have eaten a crisp too loudly and missed the line of dialogue as to why they were there. Managing to drive their re-branded Tesla 7 hours to an out-of-the-way town with no chance of charging our main characters are established and dubious intentions are indicated (*Spoiler warning – these not really ironed out.)
The first third is quite enjoyable with some fun being had with eagle eyed viewers spotting notable chairs and faces in the corners of the screen. As Leatherface makes his way into the story the fun starts. It’s all shaping up to be a pretty fun outing with some fun imagery. A proper nod to the sound design as weight is added to Leatherface’s presence and in a fun sequence involving a blonde girl escaping from a van, every sound matters. Similarly, the makeup and costume designs are outstanding. Leatherface has always looked terrific and this film captures his presence well.
Then the film slumps into a very standard … make that frustrating game of ‘chasies.’ Every 5 minutes there is a climax as Leatherface threatens to kill a protagonist only for another to step in at the last second and rescue the former with some slow motion action. This continues for the next 40 minutes in various rooms and settings.
A notable set piece involves a gory sequence on a bus. This is easily the highlight of the second half of the film and once done the film struggles to find anything as entertaining. Even the moments following make little sense as there is an opportunity for escape and our heroes don’t make a run for it, possibly for runtime reasons.
As with so many modern remakes and reinventions, Texas Chainsaw Massacre feels the need to pluck characters from the previous instalments and there are none more iconic than the original survivor, Sally, played by Marilyn Burns who unfortunately passed in 2014. Burns is no stranger to the franchise having returned in the 2013 outing. Instead a recasting attempts to rekindle this nostalgia with Irish actor Olwen Fouéré filling in. Fouéré makes for fine viewing as the new Sally, however, the new face doesn’t really work that well capturing the desired reaction and might have been better creating a new character who knows about the legacy and leave Sally to exist elsewhere off-screen.
The climax in this direct to Netflix flick is massively underwhelming in an ironic cinema setting. This might have been a good idea if it resembled a movie theatre instead of a small sound stage with some plastic sheeting and a hole in the ground that is illogically full of water.
The film isn’t smart enough to be a lampoon. As the story began I had high hopes that there was going to be a reason that the central characters were online stars, instead it was a just background detail and could have just as easily been a school on a field trip. Even got me thinking that the filmmakers could have approached real social network stars to appear and it would have been a blast seeing them being taken out.
There is a stupidly poor humoured joke as the survivors drive away from the scene of the massacre share a quip. This is the perfect example of how badly thought out this rubbish is. Had this film aimed for the satire of the 1986 versions then this would have been a great addition, but it’s not and feels massively inconsistent.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) shows potential, however, it’s loses it’s way pretty quickly. The talent is wasted and for a relaunch it is nothing but a retread of motions that have been done much better in the same franchise previously.