“Look at this freakshow. Try anything, you’ll get canceled bro.”
This is an actual line of dialogue directed at Leatherface, the popular and fictional killer in the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film series. Unfortunately, cancel culture didn’t prevent Leatherface from taking down an entire bus full of social media influencers, a scene that will live forever in the horror Hall of Fame.
Creating compelling characters in the slasher genre is among its biggest issues. Why would audiences invest in characters when they are watching for the guy that kills them?
Franchises like “Alien” or “Halloween” were blessed with Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis. All most others can shoot for is that the one-way trip to the meat grinder involves an up-and-coming star.
While this issue is real, few slashers sent worse lambs to the slaughter. Here are some of the actions our merry band of idiots takes as they try to “behold the joys of late-stage capitalism.”
“Buy” an entire town, ignore an old woman telling them that she has the deed to her home, steal said woman’s home (who is also Leatherface’s caretaker), directly cause the death of the old woman and then sell her home anyway.
At this point, Mr. Face is well within his right to bust out the chainsaw.
One of the reasons “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has lagged behind other slasher franchises is the lack of a consistent canon. The 1986 sequel is one of the most unhinged movies ever made and was impossible to continue, to the point almost every other entry in the franchise is a relaunch — or in the case of “TCM2022,” just a sequel of the first movie alone.
In trying to keep some connections to the first movie, the character Sally Hardesty returns. Originally played by Marilyn Burns in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” her performance is one of the first and best instances of the “final girl” trope and to be frank, Olwen Fouéré’s version butchers it. These two have nothing in common besides their name and to bring back the character just to become chainsaw fodder is sad.
Outside of botching Sally’s return, director David Blue Garcia’s worst decision has to go to the bizarre attempts to bring in politics.
While our main characters are social media influencers, social media has no impact whatsoever, it’s an interesting idea wasted as background information. Leatherface’s caretaker goes into a “heritage not hate” monologue about the confederate flag. Also, there’s the fact our new final girl Lila, played by Elise Fisher, is a school shooting survivor.
That should have never made it out of the pitch meeting.
Horror is an amazing genre. It’s arguably the best at creatively addressing society’s most pressing issues, but it does have blind spots. War and other violent events, just can’t be tackled by horror—especially through slashers, whose purpose is to entertain audiences through mass murder.
Looking past the blunders, none of the movie’s flaws prevent it from being an enjoyable watch. If “so bad it’s good” movies are your cup of tea, then this is a must watch.
The violence and gore are phenomenally shot. Visually, Garcia did a strong job, especially framing Leatherface just before a fight. While the characters are unlikable, they will absolutely keep your interest.
If you have a high tolerance for gore and are looking for a movie and don’t want to think for an hour and 15 minutes, boot up Netflix and give this a try.