Almost every horror franchise (or really any franchise) these days is looking to build on the legacy of what’s come before. Once upon a time, when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was first made, no one thought it would get sequels. Obviously, many have been made, over several decades, but recently it has been an especially rough time for the property. Now, Texas Chainsaw Massacre has come along, hoping to use a new genre trick to turn things around. Pretending that it’s the second film in the franchise isn’t a bad idea on paper, and it has worked elsewhere, but here it decidedly does not. This movie is wildly mediocre and largely a waste of time, outside of one ridiculously gory sequence.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre has no reason to exist. The property wasn’t calling out for a fresh coat of paint. Plus, nothing here gives you any indication that the filmmakers had a new idea. Throwing in an oddly placed social commentary aspect only muddies the waters further. They clearly just want to get to the gore, and there’s plenty of that, to be sure, but it adds up to absolutely nothing.
A sequel to the original (even using opening narration from John Larroquette once again), Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a group of idealistic young friends who arrive at a remote Texas town almost 50 years after that awful crime. Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teen sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), along with their friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson) have come to Harlow to open a restaurant, with the hopes of turning the ghost town into a liberal haven. After running into some mild resentment from folks, they begin to look around, in anticipation of a bus full of folks that will auctioning off various properties. Of course, in poking around, they accidentally disrupt the dormant existence of Leatherface (Mark Burnham), and he’s only too happy to start massacring folks again. Especially once that bus arrives, they’ll be no shortage of victims, either.
With Leatherface now on the loose once again, bodies quickly start piling up (often in many pieces) in the small town. As our protagonists try to survive, word gets out to Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré, replacing the late Marilyn Burns), the only survivor of his original rampage. She’s been waiting most of her life for vengeance, and now, she just might get it. Stop me if this sounds familiar at all…
Obviously, this cast is mostly Leatherface fodder, though Elsie Fisher does stand out from the pack. The rest, however, really do not. The first act does them dirty, but still, the rest of the main group in Jacob Latimore (who has been excellent in other flicks), Nell Hudson, and Sarah Yarkin feel anonymous. So too does Mark Burnham, even if he has the size one wants out of this villain. As for Olwen Fouéré, it’s mostly a forgettable cameo. In addition to the aforementioned John Larroquette providing his voice again, the supporting players include Jessica Allain, Moe Dunford, and more.
Director David Blue Garcia doesn’t skimp on the gore, that’s for sure. Chris Thomas Devlin‘s screenplay (working from a story by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues) is truly bare bones, so it’s on Garcia to at least make it stylish. Outside of one insane sequence on a bus that plays like a gore-filled orgy or rave, it feels far too generic. So, you pay more and more attention to how dumb the story is, which doesn’t help make this film feel like anything besides a misfire.
As a part of this franchise, it almost feels like Texas Chainsaw Massacre wants to be one of the new Halloween flicks more than anything else. Like I mentioned above, this is what horror properties are doing right now. Unfortunately, this particular one isn’t a fit for that. So, while the hope here is to launch something new, that seems rather unlikely.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an attempt to continue the series by ignoring everything except the original. Unfortunately, by doing that and passing up on the weirder elements of the property, it becomes an anonymous imitation of something great. Dropping on Netflix today will make it easy to consume for curious gore hounds, but why waste your time with something as mediocre and pointless as this?