Post #389: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

As I’ve said on numerous occasions, I take great pains to avoid reviewing current movies here. There’s so much obscure old weird stuff that I just don’t feel right dealing in the present. Still, every now and then something comes along that I’m so excited about and/or awakens such a sense of nostalgia that I just have to jot some things down.

Such is the case with Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I’ve been lookin’ forward to this one for some time, about as much as I’d been looking forward to Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. So last night I sat myself down to watch David Blue Garcia’s sequel.

It didn’t suck. Lemme start off with that. I was on board the second I heard Garcia was taking a page from David Gordon Green’s 2018 Halloween playbook and ignoring all the other Texas Chainsaw movies between the original and now. But if I’m honest, Leatherface’s transition from 1974 to now is a little rockier than Michael Myers’s. It’s not very clear, for instance, how or why Leatherface ends up in, Big Spoiler #1, the orphanage there in Harlow.

Okay, as spoilers go, that one ain’t all that huge and should come as a surprise to, well, nobody. On the other hand, he’s awfully grown to be takin’ up residence in an orphanage, but sure okay. It also raises a bothersome question: how fucking old does this make Leatherface? If it’s been 50 years, then by my reckoning that’s gotta make him at least 68 or so, right?

More importantly, let’s talk about the “victims.” First of all, there’s only one who isn’t absolutely annoying and unlikeable, and that’s Lila. The main cast is comprised of Lila’s sister Melody, her business partner Dante, and his fiancée Ruth. The business venture is to find investors to gentrify Harlow into a hipster tourist trap. The investors show up in a party bus shortly after our intrepid band. Of interest is the fact that Harlow isn’t far from the hipster mecca that is Austin.

Two other contributing characters are Richter, the Texan contractor they’ve hired, and Sally Hardesty who became a Texas Ranger after surviving the first massacre and dedicated her life to trying to track down Leatherface. Like ya do.

It’s worth pointing out that the story was co-written by Fede Álvarez who’s no stranger to taking a new look at a classic, something he pulled off nicely with Evil Dead. And like Evil Dead, he doesn’t mind tossing in some trauma, moving from Mia’s heroin addiction in Evil Dead to Lila’s survival of a school shooting.

Even more interesting is this gentrification angle. Some time ago I either read or saw someone commenting on the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the working class rising up and using the tools of their profession to attack the middle class, in this case hammers, meat hooks, and saws. Not to wade too deeply into sociopolitical heavy-osity, but the sequel could be similarly viewed, at least in part, as a reaction against the encroachment of capitalist interests on rural life.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m hardly jumping on the anti-gentrification bandwagon, but gentrification does come with its fair passel of issues not the least of which is forcing people out of their homes for the benefit, entertainment, and/or diversion of people with money. This is exactly what Melody and Dante are doing. On one hand, it is by mistake. On the other, it’s devoid of compassion and empathy, especially from Dante.

Main Street Harlow is practically a ghost town y’see. Melody and Dante plan to turn it into some trendy new spot replete with whatever trendy new hipness happens to be the latest darling of some average gaggle of smug, shallow, soullesss hipsters who will ultimately jam the place full of smug, shallow, soulless, hipper-than-thou pretension. In fact, most of the dipshits on the party bus don’t even have names. How’s that for shallow?

Happily what makes them shallow makes them (Big Spoiler #2) expendable. I can’t imagine anyone watching this and caring what happens to them. Again, not a huge spoiler that the bus becomes a slaughterhouse, and not at all badly done for a non-theatrical release. Full marks to Netflix for that. Full marks as well for the hilarious livestream scene when Leatherface gets on the bus. It’s funny. Because it’s true. And definitely read the livestream comments as the pop up.

Funny as well is the shot of the chainsaw bearing down on Melody through the floor as she scrambles underneath the house, kind of an inverted shark pursuit with a chainsaw blade versus a big ol’ fin.

Not so full marks for the look of Leatherface. On one hand, the hulking menace of Mark Burnham does a right fine job stepping into the massive shoes vacated by Gunnar Hansen. That mask though. There’s nothing wrong with it such as it is. It just looks to me more like Bloody Face from American Horror Story: Asylum (which admittedly was probably modeled after Leatherface but still).

Shortlived as it was, it was nice to see Alice Krige get some screentime as the head of orphanage. Conversely, I have not yet come to terms with how I feel about the return of Sally Hardesty. If Garcia was going for the kinda post-traumatic Laurie Strode vibe I suspect, then it falls flat. There’s a nice callback, however, to Sally’s escape in the first movie. And speaking of the first movie, well, you’ll see.

BODIES- 26 (give or take)
Streaming- Netflix

2 thoughts on “Post #389: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

  1. It’s really only you and a few other bloggers whose opinion I care about which isn’t trying to butter you up but true. I saw a bunch of people dicking this over over the weekend (probably for attention) and was waiting for you to tell us it was worth it or not.

    So – gracias.

    Liked by 1 person

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