Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
(Sarah Yarkin, Jacob Latimore, Elsie Fisher, Nell Hudson, et al / R / 1h 23m / Netflix)
Summary: Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teenage sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), and their friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson), head to the remote town of Harlow, Texas to start an idealistic new business venture.
But their dream soon turns into a waking nightmare when they accidentally disrupt the home of Leatherface, the deranged serial killer whose blood-soaked legacy continues to haunt the area’s residents - including Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the sole survivor of his infamous 1973 massacre who’s hell-bent on seeking revenge.
Verdict: Vulnerable hippie kids wandering into a wilderness only to be slaughtered meant something different in 1974 when Tobe Hooper’s unmatched The Texas Chain Saw Massacre emerged.
It was either Vietnam, the revenge of Nixon’s silent majority, or simply a shock for horror fans still getting used to the idea of finding terrors in their own backyards, not Transylvania!
Texas remains inhospitable to outsiders in David Blue Garcia’s much-mussed-over sequel, barely 81 minutes but still with not enough meat on the bone, thematically or otherwise.
Traipsing into the ghost town of Harlow, a group of gentrifying Zoomers hopes to set up their cafés, art galleries, and comics stores. These people are instantly hateable, with the exception of Eighth Grade’s lonely-looking Elsie Fisher (who deserves better), along for the ride with her sister.
Wish I’d known y’all were coming — I’d have put my face on, says one suspicious local upon hearing the youngsters knock on her door. It’s the movie’s only good line, and you want to fire up the chainsaw for her yourself at that point, trust me!
Problems of unlikability are compounded by an unusually spry Leatherface (Mark Burnham), who should be hitting 75 by now but is, for some reason, parked in an orphanage.
Hooper’s original worked as a cracked portrait of a cannibalistic family, womanless and desperately compensating. Here, Leatherface is just Jason or Michael, lumbering and omnipotent.
So is Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the original’s final girl now grown into a hawklike Texas Ranger bent on payback, a model that works a lot better when it’s Jamie Lee Curtis doing the back-paying!
Already the movie feels strained by too many tugs: Should it be gorier? Younger? More retro? All of those things? That’s the worst solution, and one inexcusable last-act development — the survivor of a school shooting picking up a rifle — is the ugliest kind of conservative fantasy.
America hasn’t changed much since Hooper put a capstone on the horror genre; we may even be closer to vicious class warfare than ever. A remake could have been fun if it had been made with vision, or at least an appreciation of the original, but this was not and thus is not, sorry. [JR]