The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE

Texas Chainsaw Massacre review
Leatherface and Sally Hardesty face off once again.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: David Blue Garcia

Starring: Olwen Fouéré, Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Jacob Latimore, Nell Hudson, Moe Dunford, Mark Burnham

Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster

Here we go again. Like the recent Halloween, Candyman and Scream, director David Blue Garcia's Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the latest belated horror sequel that couldn't be bothered coming up with a name of its own (Okay, if you want to be pedantic about things, Tobe Hooper's original was actually titled The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). As these things go, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is better than any of the sequels mentioned above, but that's a pretty low bar.

Like Halloween, this one ignores all the previous sequels. This is a franchise that has been rebooted so many times that you've probably forgotten about some of its reincarnations. Who remembers 2017's Leatherface? Or 2013's Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, notable only for introducing the world to Alexandra Daddario? All of those are scrapped as an opening clip from a salacious true crime TV show (narrated once again by John Larroquette) reminds us of the events of Hooper's 1974 classic, when a bunch of youngsters stumbled upon a remote farmhouse in rural Texas and were hacked to pieces by a chainsaw wielding manic wearing a mask made from human skin.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre review

The only survivor of that massacre was Sally Hardesty, originally played by Marilyn Burns in one of the most iconic final girl turns, and now portrayed by Irish actress Olwen Fouéré. As with Laurie Strode in the recent Halloween sequels, Sally has become a gun nut and is waiting for her chance to take revenge against Leatherface.

That opportunity arises when a group of young urbanites arrive in Harlow, Texas with plans of turning the ghost town into a hipster enclave. They've invited a bunch of fellow hipsters to check out the town, which they've had renovated by local handyman Richter (Moe Dunford), who rubs the kids up the wrong way with his love of guns. In one of the houses the youngsters believe they now own they find an elderly woman (Alice Krige) who argues that she never sold her home. When the cops arrive the old lady croaks, and her suspiciously hulking son dons her face and sets out to take revenge.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre review

There's some interesting stuff at play here. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is essentially a revenge thriller, but it features two characters seeking vengeance against different parties. While Leatherface is out for blood against the hipsters he blames for his mum's death, Sally is out to get the apron-wearing psychopath. This puts protagonist and antagonist on conflicting paths, with Leatherface finding some humanity through his loss while Sally loses her humanity in her quest for vengeance.

In similar fashion to Blumhouse's recent fun riff on The Most Dangerous Game, The Hunt, Texas Chainsaw Massacre aims its sights at both America's conservative gun-lovers and its equally annoying if less threatening liberal wing. Leatherface is indiscriminate in his politics, and it's a guilty pleasure watching his saw tear through members of both irritating factions.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre review

What's most surprising about Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the quality of the cast that's been assembled, though nobody is given any material that's going to stretch their talents. Elsie Fisher, who won us over as the put-upon protagonist of teen drama Eighth Grade, takes the role of potential final girl here, as a survivor of a school shooting. This contentious and provocative backstory is so unexplored however that it simply comes off as cheap exploitation. Fouéré's Hardesty is similarly one-note, but unlike Laurie Strode in Halloween, it makes sense that Hardesty would become a gun nut, as unlike the supernatural Michael Myers, Leatherface is just a hulking human brute. Plus, she lives in rural Texas rather than suburban Illinois.

You'll likely forget Texas Chainsaw Massacre as soon as the credits roll, but thankfully those credits roll after a swiftly paced 85 minutes. You'll have to bite your tongue regarding queries about the timeline (Leatherface must be in his seventies at this point yet moves like a twentysomething), but unlike some other filmmakers, director Garcia does enough to suggest he's a fan of the series he's working in and understands its lizard brain grindhouse appeal. He also seems to be a fan of Hooper in general, with sequences that nod to the likes of Eaten Alive and The Funhouse. It's a shame this is debuting on Netflix, as it's custom made for a drive-in screen.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
 is on Netflix from February 18th.

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