Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
texas chainsaw massacre | the texas chainsaw massacre | david blue garcia | chris thomas devlin | sarah yarkin | elsie fisher | mark burnham | leatherface | slasher | crime | thriller | united states | sequel | jacob latimore | moe dunford | olwen fouere | alice krige
Film: Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Director: David Blue Garcia
Writer: Chris Thomas Devlin
Starring: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher and Mark Burnham
This is a movie that when I heard about coming out, I wasn’t overly excited. Part of the reason is that this franchise is a bit of a mess with its timelines. Of the sequels, remakes and prequels, many of them have been up and down with the output. When I pitched the idea of seeing this and doing a podcast on it, Jaime was intrigued as she never saw the original one. We watched that and then followed it up with this movie here. The synopsis is after nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface (Mark Burnham) returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town.
For this movie, we get a brief recap of the events of the original movie. We see that Lila (Elsie Fisher) is watching it on a television in a remote gas station in Texas. She asks the guy who is working there about what he is seeing, but he isn’t forthcoming. What I will relay is that Leatherface or his brothers were never found. Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré) was the only survivor and she’s been searching all these years for the family that attacked her.
Lila is joined in the store by her sister, Melody (Sarah Yarkin). Melody is dragging her along, because her and her friend Dante (Jacob Latimore) are planning on opening a restaurant. They’re doing so in the remote Texas town of Harlow. At this gas station, they have a run-in with Richter (Moe Dunford). It will turn out though, he is their contractor helping them set up what they’re trying to do. Our group also has another encounter with the sheriff, William Hope, and his deputy, Jolyon Coy. They aren’t excited about what they’re trying to do, but the sheriff softens when he realizes that Melody’s family is from the area originally.
They arrive in Harlow and the place is rundown. Their goal is to convince investors in their vision of revitalizing the area. They want to make a utopia of sorts or as Richter sees it, a cult. Things take a turn though when they have a run in with Mrs. Mc (Alice Krige). She has a confederate flag flying from the building and there is a dispute as to owns her property. In the process she has a heart attack. She used to run an orphanage here and she has someone staying with her. This one is a full-grown man and Mrs. Mc’s attack draws his attention.
The sheriff and deputy try to get her to the hospital. Ruth (Nell Hudson), who is engaged to Dante, goes with them. This group of young people have disrupted things in this town and it draws the anger of this mysterious man by coming here.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap of the movie as that fleshes out the synopsis a bit more without going into spoilers. Where I want to start is that I don’t hate this movie. I do have some issues though. A positive for me are the effects. This movie takes things in a different direction than the original and goes brutal. With that, I’d say that they went practical with as much of the effects as they could. We get some violent deaths and the blood looks good. There was only a moment I saw of CGI that didn’t fit for me which is a positive. The look of Leatherface is also much darker here. These were all good.
From there, I do need to bring up the social commentary here. I’ve seen and heard a lot of people complaining about this already. When done properly, I’m a fan. I think that this movie is toeing the line of having something to say while going too far. While watching this with Jaime, I pointed out that when the bus of investors shows up to this community, they were ‘cannon fodder’ for body count. What I take from this is that Melody, Dante and the group that shows up are too far idealistic. It feels to me this movie is doing that so when they get attacked by Leatherface, we don’t feel as bad cheering him on as he decimates them. Richter calls them a cult and I don’t think that is too far off. There is something with the confederate flag and how Richter acts toward them that they’re blurring the lines to make our characters complicated. I don’t think this movie does well in relaying a message, because it becomes a bloody slasher film.
There is one bit of commentary I haven’t brought up yet and it involves Lila. She is a survivor of a school shooting. This is out of place and doesn’t fit. I think that it establishes that she’s socially awkward now. I’m fine with that. What is odd though is that she bonds with Richter and part of what connects them is her wound. He has a rifle of sorts that she holds. Richter shows compassion toward her. I’d say that he’s the best character for me with her being close behind. Other than that, this movie pushes the need for guns as they face off with Leatherface, so I’m not sure what the movie is trying to convey here. It feels more pro-gun than against it, so the reference feels off to me. I think Lila should have survived a stabbing or a mugging for it work better.
Speaking of Leatherface, I do have some problems with the story. This is supposed to take place roughly 50 years after the original. That would make this character be at the youngest, in his late 60s. It is more likely he is in his 70s. Some of the things that he does and the strength that he has, I don’t buy it. Taking on some of the women characters I can buy. There are some though that with his advanced age would be more of a problem for him. I understand that if Leatherface is mentally handicapped, he could be stronger. I don’t buy what we get here.
The last bit I want to delve into are the sequel aspects. It doesn’t do much aside from name only. We know the events from the first happened from the news report and Lila being interested. Having ‘Sally’ show up doesn’t add too much. What her character does I don’t buy. There are some remake elements as well. We have siblings coming to this area in Texas. Lila is our new Franklin. She doesn’t fit in with the group she is with. There is also the ‘fish out of water’ element. We have their vehicle being disabled. We also get Leatherface’s ‘chainsaw dance’ as well. I think that is about it. It doesn’t feel like a Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and I wanted more of that.
I’ll move this over to the acting then. I thought that Yarkin was solid as our lead. Her character and Lila play well off each other. I think that Fisher was solid too actually. My problem comes more for her from the back-story they forced in. Burnham has good size for Leatherface. That worked for me. Latimore, Hudson and the rest of the younger people here are fine. They are played almost as a caricature so I don’t think we feel as bad when they’re killed. I didn’t mind Dunford, especially how they complicate his character. Richter is probably the best if I’m honest. We don’t need Fouéré in my opinion. I have more issues with things that were written for her character than the performance. Aside from that, I could use more Krige. Hope, Coy and the rest of cast were fine. It was nice to see John Larroquette come back as the voice of the narrator as well.
Then the last things to go into would be the cinematography and the soundtrack. For the former, I’ll be honest, I saw the poster and people mocking Leatherface. Seeing the actual scene here was good. It was a cool shot that came with a creepy vibe. I thought that this movie was shot well. The soundtrack didn’t necessarily stand out to me, but they did some good things with a CB radio to build tension. That was effective there.
So then in conclusion here, I’ve seen this movie getting love and quite a bit of hate. I think that this movie is in the middle of the pack for me for this franchise. Without sitting down and doing my ranking, it probably does fall in the latter half. I think we get some good things here though. This is a bloody sequel that has some remake elements to it. The effects were good for the most part and it was shot well. I do have problems with the writing and backstories. Not enough to ruin things for me though. This movie is flawed. I can see that. I’d still say that this is over average for me.
My Rating: 6 out of 10