Texas Chainsaw Massacre — Leatherface gets gentrified
Chainsaws are soo 1974
Leatherface (Mark Burnham) has finally met his match, and no, it's not someone with a bigger power tool. When a group of ferociously optimistic teenagers decide to breathe new life into Harlow, a ghost town of dilapidated buildings in the heart of Texas, the serial killer finds himself pitted against something even he can't swing a blade through: gentrification. And while the simple concept introduces many unique opportunities for Leatherface to get his chain wet with blood, the film ultimately takes too many detours and makes an otherwise straightforward horror plot entirely too convoluted.
First and foremost a sequel to the 1974 horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this new slasher can't quite figure out what it wants to do: use the shock of relentless gore to keep people engaged, or try and have a larger societal point on controversial topics such as gun violence, racism, and childhood trauma. It fails at both, unfortunately, and its glaring tone-deafness to these topics makes the film's more brutal scenes tough to watch — not because the violence is overtly shocking, but because the subject matter that bookends these scenes feels entirely misguided and, dare I say, irresponsible. The problem is that Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn't know what it wants to say, and the lasting impact of this indecisiveness prohibits the film from resonating as anything more than a hodgepodge of ill-informed ideas and opinions.
A disorganized script riddled in absurd plot devices and flat character growth are far from the only issues the film faces. The detriment also lends itself to the inconsistent acting, which is a damn shame because there are some actors here who have already proven their talent in past works. Elsie Fisher, the lead in 2018's Eighth Grade, is a great example of what happens when you give a skilled artist a terrible script. She can't make sense of the flat dialogue, and the interactions she has with her co-stars is cringe-worthy, at its best. That's not even to mention the obvious disconnect director David Blue Garcia has with the modern world of social media. His inability to understand how social media works and how influencers do what they do is a major hindrance to the already sloppy story, and just muddies the film's overall message that much more. Not even a cameo from Olwen Fouere, who portrays the late Marilyn Burns' character Sally from the original film, can save the day.
Horror fans will also be disappointed to know that the creativity surrounding the inevitable kills is lackluster. As someone who once considered himself a connoisseur of all things slashers, I can confidently say Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn't surprise me with any of its brutality, instead leaving me with a "that's it?" reaction to every slice and bash. There's no imagination, no shock value, and if Texas Chainsaw Massacre can't even pass as a good gore fest, it can't pass as anything.
- Final Thoughts -
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a splitting headache of a film. From start to finish it fails to balance its many tones and plots, instead making a mockery of its cast, subject matter, and of the franchise as a whole. This is a horror flick not even die-hard fans should subject themselves to.
(Texas Chainsaw Massacre image courtesy of Variety)