REVIEW: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

 Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is not the first time in the past few years where a horror film sequel takes on the name of the original, as well as bringing back the surviving character.  In 2018, we had Halloween, which acted as a direct sequel to the original and saw Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) returning.  The same exact thing happens with here, except it is a different actress stepping in to play Sally, the lone survivor from the original (actress Marilyn Burns, who played Sally, passed away in 2014).

As with Halloween (2018), this film acts as a direct sequel to the original.  However, this is not the first time this very franchise has done that.  In 2013, we had Texas Chainsaw 3D, which made it clear it was functioning as the sequel to the 1974 film.  Also, although this movie removes the word 'The' from the title, it is the third film using the same title.  Confused?  There's lots to be confused about, as there was a remake, a prequel to the remake, and yet another prequel that existed as an origin story.  These films seriously jump all over the place.

The plot consists of a group of young, soon-to-be victims who arrive at a ghost town called Harlow.  Apparently they are going to go all hipster gentrification on this town.  They figure young people appreciate run down aesthetics, so they are going to auction off the various buildings to hip folk.  I honestly don't get how this is supposed to work, but that's okay.  Thinking too hard whilst watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a bad idea, an idea worse than deciding to watch it in the first place.

In one of the aged buildings is an old lady, living with a man who the audience will instantly know is Leatherface, the well-known antagonist from the franchise.  He doesn't have a leathery face yet, but he will.  He gets pissed off, and once pissed off, he decides to start killing the cast of characters that have been placed in front of us, almost all of them having no personality and impossible to care about.  Lila (Elsie Fisher) is the only one of the youngsters who has a back story, and even that is just a single element and not proper character development.

As people get murdered, we see Sally (Owlen Fouere) being informed that Leatherface is back.  It has been established that Sally wants revenge for the death of her friends from the first film, and she is nothing but eager to find and kill Leatherface.  Sally, who is the only person in the movie that has any motivation, ultimately ends up being useless to the plot.  This isn't hyperbole.  She is useless.

The story is written by Fede Alverez, the screenplay by Chris Thomas Devlin, and is directed by David Blue Garcia.  I am familiar with Alverez, but not the other two.  It feels as though none of the three want to acknowledge that the reality is that Leatherface was just one member of the antagonists in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  This film is solely about him, and it feels weird that Sally is obsessed with just one of her tormentors from the past.  I understand that Leatherface is the recognizable property in this franchise, but to do a direct sequel and ignore a major component of the original feels like a major misstep by people who don't understand the material they are working with.

Leatherface himself has now become the lowest common denominator of masked slasher baddies.  All of a sudden he has superhuman strength and is seemingly immortal.  If we are going by the world building set in the original, which I feel we have to considering the decision to be a direct sequel with one of the original characters, then Leatherface is just a person who had worked in a slaughter house.  There was nothing fantastical about him at all.  By this point in time, he would probably be in his seventies, and surely wouldn't be able to deflect bullets with his chainsaw (which sadly actually happens).

Honestly, there was no reason for Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) to fit within this franchise since they are now ignoring the villains from the first movie and now creating a supernatural Leatherface.  This could have been a Friday the 13th film by merely swapping out the antagonist.  Nothing about the plot or how it goes has anything to do with the franchise, outside of Sally that is.  But, as mentioned, she is completely useless to the plot.

Is it horrible that I'm missing the days of Michael Bay produced Texas Chainsaw films?  At least those, as awful as they were, still felt a part of this established universe.  They were crazy, and they were loud, but they had some sort of generic energy that shone so much brighter than the lack of enthusiasm that created this film.

Nobody in this film acts like anything close to a real person.  From the base concept of the hipster auction, to people seeing a victim of a murder and barely acting on it, these figures on the screen are just pieces that are maneuvered around to serve a bland plot.  In one of the biggest action sequences, I was legitimately bored.  Elsie Fisher was the only bright spot, but even her character is underwritten in an almost criminal way.

Nothing to see here, folks.  Move along.

Rating - 1 out of 4 stars (and they can thank Elsie Fisher for the fact that it got that single star)