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'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (2022) review: Gore and guts fill Netflix's vacuous meat sack of a movie

The blood bus does whip, though.
By Alison Foreman  on 
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The silhouette of Leatherface in Netflix's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2022)
Credit: Netflix

Despite what some Tobe Hooper scholars will tell you, a good Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel doesn’t have to do or be anything. A good movie is a good movie — and the latest Leatherface outing just isn't that.

Directed by David Blue Garcia and written by Chris Thomas Devlin, based on a story by Fede Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues, Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is a modern-day follow-up to the 1974 original. This marks the ninth flick in the horror series. For those unfamiliar, the seven other titles don't matter for continuity, and pale only in comparison to this one's screaming smugness.

Like Halloween (2018), this pseudo-reboot sets out to reclaim the franchise's confused legacy by retconning away its past and starting semi-fresh. The resurrection of infamous final girl Sally Hardesty (played here by Olwen Fouéré; original actor Marilyn Burns died in 2014) is an especially close parallel to Universal Pictures' Laurie Strode renaissance. But Sally's return is such a weak aside, you could just as well spotlight the movie's use of the titular power tool as its most salient revisitation.

Elsie Fisher, Sarah Raykin, Nell Hudson, and Jacob Latimore in Netflix's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
Credit: Netflix

The plot more squarely centers on a gaggle of twentysomethings who, almost 50 years after the events of the first massacre, make plans to flip a small Texas ghost town. Described by locals as "gentrifuckers," Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Dante (Jacob Latimore) are intent on turning the sleepy homestead of Harlow into a utopian oasis.

Their need for a safe haven is underscored by the presence of Melody's younger sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), who recently survived a school shooting. (Unsurprisingly, a story from the dudes who brought you Don't Breathe 2 is a tasteless train wreck that runs headlong into sensitive subjects.) Also along for the ride is Dante's blonde fiancée Ruth (Nell Hudson), who in the grand tradition of shitty slashers lets her hair color double as a personality.

Harlow's inexplicably cash-rich newcomers welcome a party bus of clients to peruse properties in the morning. But by nightfall, they're fighting for their lives, having awoken Leatherface (Mark Burnham) and unintentionally delivered dozens of would-be victims to his doorstep.

Elsie Fisher as Lila in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2022)
Credit: Netflix

With the stage set for a blood bath, it's time to watch this Texan do a chainsaw massacre — and boy howdy, does he deliver. For fans of gore and guts, this Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a standout success. Limbs splinter, entrails fly, and bodies mount as the ever-menacing masked murderer plods around getting his. If you're following the film on social media, then you may have already heard about a buzzy bus-set butchering which, let me tell you, lives up to the hype.

That said, it's tough to find satisfaction in something so shoddily made. The practical effects are entertaining enough, but everything else in this Texas Chainsaw Massacre is lacking. The characters aren't likable, nor are they well-written. The shot pacing is erratic, revealing continuity errors throughout. Entire chase scenes occur and never quite make sense. Fisher's hair sucks — so, so badly.

On the one hand, it's a bummer to see yet another Texas Chainsaw Massacre fail to capture what makes the first among the most terrifying tales ever told. On the other hand, it's the sort of disappointment you get used to as a TCM fan. Bad sequels are now as much a part of Leatherface's legacy as his inaugural installment. So, in that way, this one kills.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is now streaming on Netflix

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