There are two ways of looking at meanness, and one of them is that meanness manifests through a lack of creativity. A lack of creativity is a valid accusation that anyone can make of this review. The same goes for the movie I’m reviewing, the 2022 sequel of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Here, director David Blue Garcia revisits the horrific tragedy that took away the lives of four young people. People who died violently in the southern state back in the 1970s. There was a Western feel to the original that feels diluted in Chris Thomas Devlin’s screenplay.
Fifty years later, the only survivor of the original massacre, Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouere) still lives within miles of Harlow, Texas. The town also happens to be the pet project of some Z-ennials (including Elsie Fisher). Their gentrification project involves kicking out an old lady (Alice Krige) and one of her charges. Growing a conscience, one of the gentrify-ers, Rush decides to go with the the family. She doesn’t realize that that charge is Leatherface (Mark Burnham) until it’s too late. In fairness to the film the first kill scene is terrifying and also tender. This tenderness echoes throughout the film, which is both interesting and out of place.
Before I continue with this critique, I kind of pint out a few things that are interesting to me especially with casting. After watching Fisher in Eighth Grade, there’s something about her that feels rural. So it’s interesting that Garcia cast her as a Austin City ur-hipster, Lila. However, this all feels too familiar as she’s just one of many ingenues who slide into the indie to horror pipeline. Another interesting casting note is Moe Dunford playing a convincing local contractor, Richter, even though he’s Irish. Local characters toe the line of offensiveness here, which is fine despite the mixed messages. But I wish his character’s arc wasn’t as disappointing as all the other characters are.
Anyway, Fede Alvarez started out making reboots or sequels of other horror films like Evil Dead. Then he moved on to making problematic horror franchises of his own like Don’t Breathe. With this sequel, he’s back adding to the stories of previous properties and it’s not without its merits. It’s interesting, as an example, to watch Leatherface behave in his own home. We get this character moment by the way, because of one of the Z-ennials. That character is Meoldy (Sarah Yarkin), who finds herself inside Leatherface’s home.
Melody is there to look for the deed to prove that it’s hers to renovate. But once Leatherface returns, killing one Z-ennial at a time, she’s stuck in the home having no choice but to watch him. She does this while waiting for her chance to escape. At other times it feels like it’s setting up to kill the Z-ennials. Press materials for the movie call them idealistic. But none of them are interesting enough. They’re not making me loyal to characters who are technically part of my generation. Even the Rebel Flag seen has some push and pulls with its nuances. The old guy in the beginning of the movie was right.
This sequel could have worked but other elements keep holding it back. There’s nothing attention grabbing to the storytelling. I guess there’s also potential in having a character play the original final girl. There’s also some ambiguous things about the character. One who could be just as capable of evil as the figure who tried to kill her decades ago. And of course, there’s nothing cooler than an old lady with a Clint Eastwood vibe. But, and without giving away too much, we’ve all seen the new Halloween movies. And Sally’s character arc here feels too similar to that other franchise’s final girl.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre in out in Canada on Netflix.