Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 film review

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

(1 star out of 5)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) Directed by David Blue Garcia

Unclassifiable in its incompetence and too flat out boring to be considered fun trash. In the era of we-don’t-need-to-make-sequels-but-let’s-do-it-anyway, this one breaks the barriers of the ridiculous standards of contemporary slasher cinema, where it abusively no longer just thinks the audience is brute, it offensively believes it by treating them as stupid, kind of like when you frolic with your pet by throwing food at it. I thoroughly understand the functions of a film with these insufferable characteristics, but what I don’t fathom is how the hell they think something like this can actually work? Commercially it is perceptible that ”it works”, yet even in the principles of garbage cinema there are certain entertainment values that must be established. Apparently the new sequels have been inclined to perform a blatant populism, specifically in the horror genre, where literally in our faces they are telling us, ”horror movie fans just like to watch gruesome set pieces and nothing else, they are a clumsy audience give them what they ask for the most”. Paradoxically, it is evident that these insipid productions have never paid the slightest attention to the films they are trying to ”revive”; this film is the wretched paradigm of just that, they take just the symbol of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and transfigure it into something clownish. Leatherface stops being the terrifying but poor mentally handicapped man manipulated by his morbid family to become a sort of bloodthirsty gorilla who likes to use the chainsaw as a frisbee.

And the most execrable and bad thing about this film is that it truly believes it is producing a solid sequel while making prosaic sociological commentaries. Supposedly, we have already reached the apex of ludicrousness with the political ”correctness” within the cinema, it is not that they want to write characters of a certain generation, now as an absolute rule they have to do it compulsorily so that they are not judged by the susceptible and recalcitrant sectors. But the truth is, that I find it superfluous to identify the specificity of their transparent errors, since it is brutally obvious without even developing them in writing what they are. That is only narratively, the execution is another annoying story.

One of the reasons that make the 1974 cold-blooded masterpiece fascinating is its great climatic establishment in its grimy, unvarnished, anti-aesthetic cinematography composed with the kinetic naturalism of a faux documentary feeding off a decadent, grainy Texas, the ruthless vehemence of that film lies in its great sense of place but also in its sleazy sense of depravity given to that fetid family of cannibals. For me, Leatherface is only a part of that effective whole, and sadly most sequels, but most drastically this one, consider Leatherface alone to be the necessary product that makes the 1974 film iconic. Objectively, if a sequel is made where 50 years have passed since the events of the first then it’s obvious that the whole squalid, hungry and happy family couldn’t be together, so why not give Leatherface a more intuitive character more intrinsic to his pathologies rather than giving him the appearance of a psychopathic wrestler?

The idea of bringing back a different, androgynous Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré) was simple narrative rhetoric to make more story where there is none, and certainly the whole chaotic result ends up being vexingly cheap. Leatherface performing more fatal combinations than in mortal kombat looks boringly useless as a character. Does saying the performances were halfway good save this movie? I don’t think so, especially when you have a production so disinterested in the product as to film it somewhere other than Texas and call it Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

This new and redundant sequel tells the story of Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teenage sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) and their friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson) who travel to the remote Texas town of Harlow to set up a very idealistic business. But their dream turns into a nightmare when they unwittingly disturb Leatherface, the deranged serial killer whose bloody legacy continues to haunt the locals, including Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the sole survivor of his 1974 massacre, determined on quenching her revenge at all costs.

I am more than convinced that we have reached a no-limit zone in terms of obtuse and empty slasher productions, we have reached a zone where there is absolutely nothing new that can justify these sequels. Having just recently had the release of Scream (2022) and having had last year’s Halloween Kills (2021) it is obvious that there are traces of entertainment in these resurrecting films of past franchises, however the final product always ends up being less than ideal, yet curiously if we compare those two films I just mentioned with this crap, the difference is abysmal.

This new sequel to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows the same routine of narratively ignoring the sequels already made and making a continuation of the first installment, it is something already like an irksome habit but apparently the producers adamantly maintain that this is the right path to take; in this case, I think we finally have the perfect example of why some work moderately and others simply don’t. This is a filmic disaster that deserves to be called one of the worst contemporary slashers, it visibly proves its incompetence from minute one to the final minutes. Its humdrum narrative ideas are a hodgepodge of everything that has gone wrong with sequels in the history of horror cinema, and most frustratingly, it had the deluded idea that making a sequel to one of the most robust and key grindhouse films of 70’s horror cinema could make something interesting. Arguably, something purely wonky but entertaining could have been made, however this film doesn’t even understand the fun factor of such a sequel, the plot is resolved under a pedestrian 21st century intrinsic concept, something that production companies commonly love to do without any sense whatsoever. The film unnecessarily panders to a myriad of social commentary, much of which is emphatically incompatible with a slasher film narrative, but the filmmakers don’t care and do it anyway, uncreatively manifesting problematic themes such as allegorizing traumatic school shootings.

There are thousands of themes that are planned to be developed in this film, and not only is there not enough time to carry out those plans, but they are not even given the necessary weight to deal with them. It’s one dull act after another more soporific one, and it seems that when they have no idea of what they want to materialize filmically, they just fill the null spaces with hyper-violent sequences, many of them are wild set pieces that explode the bloody nastiness that an exploitation film should have; some are ephemerally funny, others are elaborated with a huge superfluity that contributes absolutely nothing to what we are watching. It’s ostensibly a film committed to doing nothing, just making the already worn out sequels more ridiculous, and let’s be honest, even though virtually no significant horror film needed a sequel, but if there’s one that definitely didn’t need one, it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).

The performances give the film some oxygen to at least make it stand up to its visual incongruities and scripted irrationalities, plus it’s incredibly short enough as to not say it’s a long, slumberous mess of a movie; it’s yet another one of the devastatingly shoddy sequels that have been made in horror cinema, but this one probably infuriated me more than any other, is pointless in many ways and is sophomoric in its execution. Avoid at all costs.

 

 

Matteo Bedon

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When I'm not watching and studying films, I'm writing about them. Part-time essayist and full-time film critic.

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