Texas Chainsaw Massacre Review: Another One of Unworthy Leatherface Reboots

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Review: Another One of Unworthy Leatherface Reboots

Tobe Hooper’s 1974 slasher The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is such an influential cult classic that it has spawned a folklore of its own. Several decades later, there are around nine films that are directly or indirectly associated with the quintessential psychopath Leatherface. The appeal of the original was in its perfect mingling of slasher genre tropes of brutal, gritty, and suspenseful horror with a rich cinematic language that Tobe Hooper mastered over the years. Later films, however, latching onto the madness and mayhem and blood and guts, eschewed the other significant part. David Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is another addition to the long list of TCM films that doesn’t pass muster and even pales in comparison to some of the previous ones.

 In David Blue Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a group of young teens (Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Jacob Latimore, Jessica Allain, and Nell Hudson) travel back to Harlow, an abandoned town in Texas. Their aim is to create a heavily gentrified area replacing a dilapidated orphanage. Surprisingly, an old woman refuses to leave her property and claims she has all the papers to prove her claim to the property. Mistaking her for a trespasser, they try to evict her (no one likes the old landlady). Her only son (Leatherface, obviously) doesn’t like it and goes on a killing spree with his revving chainsaw.

 I should be honest here; the trailer did not show much promise, so the anticipation and expectation were low from my side. However, Garcia proved you can be disappointed and irritated even when not much is at stake.  Whether Leatherface (Mark Burnham) cares about gentrification or not, is not much evident. Although, needlessly, the director tried too hard to make it a moralistic fable showing the pitfalls of gentrification and Leatherface as a towering battle-angle against late-stage capitalism. Whereas much of the original’s appeal lies in its unpretentious premise, Garcia aims to tell too many stories, but fails to tell any single one of them with the necessary care and depth.

 However, the aim was different and the effort is all too evident to miss. Texas Chainsaw Massacre somehow tried to undo the previous attempts at replicating the success of the 1974 original. Most of them were feeble and forgettable anyway. The attempt was clearly to make a worthy successor to the original in the manner of Halloween (2018). Whereas, Halloween largely succeeded for following the original’s path, Garcia’s one fails to embody the first film.

 It was quite clear that the producers were buoyed by the success of David Gordon Green’s Halloween reboot among fans and critics. They didn’t try to hide it. Rather, at times, the subplot borders on a rip-off of Halloween. But Green’s reboot was a much better film with a concrete plot and tight screenplay. Whereas the dialogues in Texas wavers between astonishingly bland and remarkably superfluous.

 The producers also brought back the sole survivor of the earlier rampage, Sally Hardesty (played by Olwen Fouere, the original Sally, Marilyn Burns passed away in 2014). Sally is still on the hunt for Leatherface to avenge her dead friends. Leatherface in the original film was a dogged madman. The idea here was to show an older version of him, and pay homage that is long overdue. But the original film complimented the relentlessness of Leatherface with its sweaty suspense. Conversely, the latest reboot puts the audience off stride with a meandering story in an 83-minute narrative.

 Time and again, filmmakers have tried to replicate the beguilingly simple formula of “common men plunged into a ghastly nightmare” of the 1974 classic. But this again proves it’s not easy to replicate. Surely, not by resorting to CGI wounds and blood spurts which although look raw and visceral, fail to leave a mark (forgive the terrible pun here). In the beginning, I mentioned that Texas Chainsaw Massacre is another addition to the long list of Leatherface reboots, spin-offs, sequels that aren’t up to snuff. I should also mention it’s another film in the list, that increases the elusive charm of the original and stands as a testament to the brilliant Tobe Hoopers’ mastery of the craft.

 Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now streaming on Netflix. 

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