Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot fails to win over original fans

Written By Dan Russo, Staff Writer

1 Globe

Out of the big four classic slasher movie franchises, I think The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is my favorite of the four if we’re basing this discussion off the first movie only. I love the solid 35 minutes of buildup before something scary happens. I love the grating and anxiety-inducing soundtrack and the way they utilize chainsaws and sample slaughterhouse ambiance. The set design is some of the strongest of its era, and certainly one of the best for its budget. I love the implied violence, how the deaths of the characters aren’t gratified. Despite having a very violent name, the movie itself is actually quite restrained with its violence. This idea of “less is more” also directly corresponds to the original’s plot.

Part of what makes the original Texas Chainsaw film work for me is the mystery of it all. Yes, the movies are loosely based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, but in the original film, there is no real explanation for anything that is happening. Sequels that have attempted to expand on the Leatherface mythos mostly fall flat because it removes that aspect and tries to answer questions nobody wanted the answers to. Well, that and the fact that a lot of the sequels are incredibly poorly written and embrace gimmicks like 3D. In my opinion, the only Texas Chainsaw sequel worth watching is the first direct sequel, and that is mostly due to Dennis Hopper’s performance.

After some typical aging horror movie franchise rights limbo and two incredibly negative test screenings, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) was finally completed and dumped to Netflix. This is the second Texas Chainsaw film to miss a wide theatrical release in a row. Upon watching the movie, it is easy to understand why.

There are shreds of a good movie in here somewhere, no pun intended. There are some great kills in this movie, and it is a straight-up gorefest like any Texas Chainsaw sequel is. The soundtrack is great, and it harkens back to the original movie. There are some pretty shots and scene transitions. It also has a neat subversion of bringing a character from the first old movie back. Though recasting Marilyn Burns after her passing in 2014 leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

However, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) has to have some of the most unlikable characters I have seen in a movie in a while. All the main characters are nothing more than Millennial and Gen Z strawmen. It is clear to me that nobody making this movie had any idea how our generation talks or acts. Another thing that bugs me about this movie is the way that Leatherface is suddenly a super powerful character that can seemingly teleport at will and survive multiple gunshots.

Without a doubt, the biggest issue I take with this film is something that is not to be discussed lightly. One of the main characters is the victim of a school shooting, a traumatic event that is, unfortunately, something that is alarmingly common here in the United States.

To compare the very real terror of an event like that to something as over the top as a slasher movie like this is completely unfair. The original Texas Chainsaw movie had a genuine point to make and was jam-packed with social commentary about the meat industry, violence against women, and even the Watergate scandal. Any attempt at making a point in this movie, be it about school violence, cancel culture, or gentrification is completely null and void.

I love horror movies because of the way that filmmakers can turn their very real anxieties, concerns and social opinions into tangible things that we can see, hear and understand. Sure, this movie is pretty to look at in its own macabre way, but that’s it. I hated my time with Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), and I wish this movie would have stayed on the cutting room floor.