PARCEL: Melody, her entrepreneurial friends, and her sister Lila come to the small town of Harlow, Texas, hoping to renovate the area. Unfortunately, their arrival ends up waking up the deadly Leatherface, who begins slaughtering the newcomers. Meanwhile, the sole survivor of Leatherface’s original kill, Sally Hardesty, reappears to defeat the murderer.
REVIEW: Of all the major horror franchises featuring iconic movie killers, the Chainsaw Massacre represents a really mixed bag. Tobe Hooper’s original 1974 film is a true classic of the genre and remains one of the best horror films of all time, but subsequent entries never quite lived up to what Hooper achieved with this film. Sequels like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 have since become fan favorites while earning a cult following along the way, but most of them range from mediocre to downright awful. The brand enjoyed some resurgence when the 2003 remake became a bit of a surprise hit but, again, the films that followed saw a gradual decline in quality. By the time we arrived at 3D Texas Chainsaw in 2013 and Leatherface in 2017, it seemed like it was time to really put this franchise to bed.
Proving that you can’t keep a horror franchise going for too long, Legendary Pictures has come along and scooped up the rights to the franchise to give us a whole new take on the concept. How can they make us forget some of the sequels that just didn’t work out? They shoot a Halloween 2018 on us and make this new movie a direct sequel to the 1974 film. In other words, let’s assume that none of the other entries actually exist. It worked for Halloween in 2018 which garnered positive reviews and a big box office, so it couldn’t hurt to try the same with 2022 Chainsaw Massacre. The main difference is that movie theaters are being skipped for this one and the movie will debut on Netflix, likely an easy buy for the streamer since name recognition alone will ensure the target audience will flock to the platform. shape to look at it. I’m going to co-sign that it was a smart move on their part, because while the film is entertaining enough and doesn’t overstay its welcome at one hour and twenty-three minutes, Chainsaw Massacre probably wouldn’t see the box office bonanza that Halloween made in 2018. The film lacks a certain mass appeal to attract casual moviegoers and it still falls a bit short as a legacy sequel to the original film. The tie-in to Tobe Hooper’s horror classic seems nailed at best and there’s not enough screen time to really take you back to the 1974 film. That being said, director David Blue Garcia and the cinematographer Ricardo Diaz creates solid tension and visuals that stick with you, and horror fans will also be happy to hear that the film doesn’t skip on the gore. There are some really relentless sequences of violence that have stuck with me since watching the movie last week. For that alone, the film deserves a recommendation for horror fans, but the uninitiated may not be encouraged to take this trip to Texas.
The film certainly starts off on the right foot with John Larroquette providing his signature narration for the film’s opening exploration as he did with the original and the 2003 remake. their arrival in Harlow, Texas. There’s a group of potential victims and you quickly learn that you really only need to know two of them, as the others are just developed enough to dispatch them quickly. Melody (Sarah Yarkin), is a moneymaker from San Francisco who drags her sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) with her on this latest business trip for fear of leaving her alone in the city. We learn through quickly edited flashbacks and filler dialogue that Lila has been through a traumatic event and Melody has some guilt for not being there for her. It’s a backstory we don’t necessarily need, but it’s a worthy attempt to humanize both characters before the madness begins. Considering the film’s short runtime, it wasn’t long before it became clear that this trip was a bad idea and they stumbled upon something that began to wreak havoc in 1973. Hearing word that Leatherface has resurfaced in the most gruesome way possible, survivor Sally Hardesty (originally played by the late Marilyn Burns but portrayed by Olwen Fouéré in this film) springs into action to finish him off once and for all. .
Oddly enough, the Sally Hardesty bits that provide a bridge to the original film work the least. It’s not really the filmmakers’ fault since the death of Marilyn Burns in 2014, but the recasting of the role creates a bit of a disconnect. As viewers, we know it’s not the Sally Hardesty who memorably screamed through some of the original film’s most iconic moments. It’s Not Like Seeing Jamie Lee Curtis Return As Laurie Strode In 2018 Halloween. Olwen Fouéré does an adequate job but the odds are stacked against her as fans know she didn’t star in the original film. Making the Sally Hardesty aspect of the story even more problematic is that it feels extremely nailed. After her first introduction, she is absent from large parts of the film and since the film sells out when she returns, how she is used during the climax falls flat.
As for the new characters, only Sarah Yarkin’s Melody and Elsie Fisher’s Lila make an impression. The rest of the young cast are simply biding their time to get slaughtered. Sarah Yarkin ends up being a really capable final girl and I’ll give her all the credit for being a soldier through what seems to have been a very messy shoot. They put this girl to the test but she is 100% committed and ends up giving a strong performance. Elsie Fisher, whom I haven’t seen since Eigth year, is also solid as Lila and she forms a strong sisterly bond with Yarkin that does just enough to have us rooting for their survival. Artists like Jacob Latimore, Nell Hudson and Jessica Allain only signed up with me because of how they died. Guess that’s compliment enough in a slasher movie.
The slasher aspect is where director David Blue Garcia shines. There are intense moments of violence and gore that raise the stakes with each subsequent murder. Nell Hudson’s Ruth is introduced during a tense scene after a police car is wrecked and she must try to stay quiet as Leatherface cuts someone’s face in the background. The way Garcia sets up the shot is efficient and definitely increases the tension to ten. The best moment of the movie that I will just dub “The Bus Killing” horror fans will cheer because of their ruthlessness. Taking a bunch of extras, putting them on a confined bus, and having Leatherface run through them while creating maximum carnage is the kind of moment you hope for in a movie like this. It’s truly an orgy of blood and flying limbs that Garcia’s camera doesn’t hesitate to show you EVERY gruesome detail. It’s a scene that’s bound to become a fan favorite.
Mark Burnham’s towering performance as Leatherface is also a highlight. He’s a character with not much on the page, so you need someone with the physicality to instill fear and Burnham has what it takes. Just watching him chase after some of the characters raises your pulse and I imagine the late Gunnar Hansen would be proud of his portrayal.
Chainsaw Massacre will do enough to please horror fans in the moment and it provides a fairly quick moment of entertainment, but I don’t think it does enough to elevate it to the level of NEED live again in this world. It’s definitely better than 3D Texas Chainsaw and Leatherface and I was never bored throughout the movie but I’m not 100% convinced that I need to see Leatherface doing his business again. The streaming movie’s success will determine where the franchise goes, but it will take a bit of reinventing the wheel to justify another gruesome stay in the Texas heat.