“After nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town.”

Director: David Blue Garcia
Writers: Chris Thomas Devlin, Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues
Staring: Sarah Yarkin, Eslie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Olwen Fouéré
Release Date: February 18, 2022

I’ll say it, I didn’t hate. Maybe it was my low expectations. Maybe it was just me traveling on an airplane. Maybe it was me happy to watch a brain-numbing movie after numerous critical thinking movies. All I can say is that I enjoyed Texas Chainsaw Massacre for what it is.

This reboot/sequel of the 1973 classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is by no means the same quality as its idol. What Texas Chainsaw Massacre manages to be is a VERY bloody, somewhat entertaining, quick-paced thrill ride. It won’t terrify you, and it won’t make any Mount Rushmore conversations, but it will deliver you quality kills and some gleaming grins that horror fan enthusiasts can appreciate.

So a brief plot summary, because really, there isn’t too much to delve into.

Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Dante (Jacob Latimore) are young whippersnappers looking to start a new heartfelt revolution in the quaint town of Harlow, Texas. Melody’s sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) also tagged along, but is not as gung-ho on the utopia mindset. The town of Harlow is thought to be evacuated, but there are some stragglers. One of those stragglers is a man with no-name…a man with only a reputation. That man is Leatherface.

As more young perfection-seekers arrive in the town, the body count climbs in increasingly gruesome ways. Heroes are slain and bystanders and massacred. The white shining knight in the story emerges and that’s Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), survivor of the first, original Leatherface attack. Can Sally, a now Texas Ranger, save the kids and get-over her demons? Will youthful courage win out of aged brutality?

This may be a bit of spoiler, but tough cookies. The most important part of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that evil wins. Evil still triumphs. The chainsaw reigns supreme. Honestly, when Leatherface ensures that he has the last laugh, I raised my grade from a “C-” to a “C+”. I was legit going to be furious if for some insane reason the villain actually died and the two heroes that we know minimally about survived and lived happily ever after. That would be utter bullshit.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre plays out like many slasher movies in that there are multiple endings. Characters that are thought to be dead come back, then die again, then maybe even come back again, before dying again. We have heroes from the past coming back to try and save the day, and exuberant youths thinking they are hot shit before getting humbled in the worst way. Oh, let’s not forget a creepy town with strangling habitants ll of the shady untrusting hue.

Yes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is formulaic movie, but that is perfectly fine for my liking.

So my question to director David Blue Garcia and his writers is simply this: why did you do have to add so much stuffing to an already edible meal? There was no need to over-crowd the main dish with extra sides of political backstories and social commentary. Texas Chainsaw Massacre attempts are incorporating the emotional toll of school shootings with the character Lila, and all of the youthful happiness is centered around the idea of a more sustainable, eco-friendly safe-haven community. It is a pinning of the old versus the young in terms of ideals, acceptance and tradition.

The original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did not have any of this extra filler. The movie was solely for the purposes of terrifying the audience with blunt for trauma in terms of violence and hysteria. After watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you felt the sweat that actors endured. After Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you could go to a puppy park and not have a second thought of the terror. None of the political and social commentary that is oozed into this sequel matter because it is so fast paced and once it reaches a certain point, it’s straight downhill with blood as its speeding lubricant.

There are two scenes in Texas Chainsaw Massacre that really did it for me. The first is when Ruth (Neil Hudson) is riding in the cop car and the myth known as Leatherface reawakens from his slumber. This is the first instant where you learn the brutality of the violence that is going to be in the movie, and the first kill is genuinely inventive. Maybe it is the jolt of adrenaline with this being the first action-packed scene, but the vibes in this truck are suspenseful. We see him create a new face and it’s the one he dons for the remainder of his rampage.

Then there is the bus scene. This had to be the most chaotic but most fun sequence to shoot in the entire movie. It is a bunch of drunk teenagers, oblivious to the terror, getting utterly massacred by Leatherface. I mean, it is gruesome. There are intestines dripping from windows and chainsaw ceiling impalements (reminiscent of Darth Vader in Rogue One). It is all a bloody mess, and in the best way possible. It is a gory mess that is impossible to look away from. Now, did I do a face palm with the horrendously boomer line of “cancelled” and the cell phone videos…you are god damn right I did. But I also gave a slight fist bump when that character bit the end of Leatherface’s chainsaw.

In the end, can we just be honest? This is a safe space on Stanko’s Stance.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is trying to be Halloween (2018). It has the reboot feel with updated gore and a hero coming back to save the day. It has youths in danger because they have forgotten about the danger which has fallen into myth. Texas Chainsaw Massacre hits the right notes with the gore, shock value and traditional slasher storyline, but its melody is all wrong. The other-stuffing of its messaging drags the movie’s speedy pace, and the cast of characters is not as enthralling as its ideal comparison.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre reminds me of an update version of Halloween Kills (2021).. It has the components you like, but rather than filling out the frame of the puzzle first, you are stuck with a mess in the middle. Speaking strictly for myself, I have less of a connection to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise than Halloween, so I was able to shut my brain off and enjoy it for what it is. And what Texas Chainsaw Massacre is to its viewers is just a reason to turn your brain off.

Also, hilarious story with my viewing of this movie. I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre on an airplane on my obnoxiously large laptop. Next to me on the airplane is a young women watching How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (2003) on her phone. Just two polar opposite viewing experiences sitting right next to one another.

STANKO RATING: C+ (2.5/5 Stars)

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