Written by Becca Johnson
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is widely regarded as one of the most disjointed of the horror genre. It undeniably has some great strengths, especially within the original, but its unnecessary and confusing amount of timelines and weak entries lets it down. Unfortunately, the new instalment is no different and doesn't do enough to make the franchise beloved again, in fact it does the complete opposite.
The new addition, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a straight to Netflix direct sequel to the 1974 original, sees the return of the iconic Leatherface after fifty years of hiding. When a group of idealistic young friends disrupt his remote town in pursuit of a new business venture, the deranged serial killers legacy continues to haunt the areas residents.
The script, lacklustre from the start, falls into the trap of trying to be 'woke' purely because it centres around a group of teens. It is full to the brim with social media jargon, livestreams and cancel culture, coming across as cringe worthy rather than cool. It even attempts to throw some social commentary into the mix in regards to gentrification and school shootings, but unfortunately barely dives into either of them, resulting in the script having nothing to say by the end. The 83 minute run-time means that every plot point and character is severely underdeveloped, never allowing its audience to fully get behind it.
The young actors try their best to elevate the incredibly weak script. Elsie Fisher and Sarah Yarkin are the standouts, playing sisters Lila and Melody. We learn pretty early on that Lila has been a victim of a shooting, and Melody tries her best to both look after her sister and give her confidence and strength to go it alone. Their dynamic could have been the movies saving grace, if only it had the development needed to make it a pivotal part of the story. Burnham's Leatherface is also fine, though it's hard to analyse the performance behind a chainsaw wielding masked maniac. Unfortunately, the characters are too dumb to fully appreciate any performances, and though its pretty frequent for teens in horror to make bad decisions, this one pushes the trope to the extreme.
As it's a Texas Chainsaw movie, its success or failure largely boils down to its horror elements. 2022's Leatherface is brutal and does not hold back, taking out anyone in his path, even multiple individuals at once. The kills are intriguing and there are plenty of them, yet the gore actually seems to go a little over-the-top at times. Many may find joy in the crazy kills, blood and guts, but for some, it may be too laughable to fully support. Luckily, the kills start early on, and the distraction from the terrible storyline is welcome.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre makes the bold decision to bring back original final girl Sally Hardesty, but fans will wish it hadn't. She too makes terrible decisions, misses many opportunities to get her revenge and is severely underutilised. This instalment attempts to pay homage to the genres favourite final girl, yet instead makes a mockery out of her and wastes a tremendous amount of potential. Would the Sally Hardesty we know and love even step foot near Leatherface and this town again?
Netflix' Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a poorly written horror movie, and one of the worst in the franchise. It butchers its predecessor by bringing characters back and doing them incredibly dirty, whilst not even allowing its new characters to shine. It tries to be cool and modern yet unfortunately does the opposite, creating a jam-packed 83 minutes of uninteresting, try-hard cheese. It lacks imagination and creativity and is laughable until the very last second, when it aims to recreate the iconic final shot of the original. It has good kills and enough gore to score on the entertainment scale somewhere; it does nothing more than that, but should we really be asking a slasher sequel for more?