HomeMoviesNewest 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Further Taints Franchise's Legacy

Newest ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Further Taints Franchise’s Legacy

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE Mark Burnham as Leatherface.
Cr. Yana Blajeva / ©2021 Legendary, Courtesy of Netflix

Legendary Pictures had a lot of potential to revive a classic horror franchise when they acquired Texas Chainsaw Massacre after Lionsgate’s failure with 2017’s Leatherface. Unfortunately, their entry is a strong candidate for the worst in the franchise.

In a similar vein to Blumhouse’s modern Halloween trilogy, Texas Chainsaw Massacre attempts to be a “requel” that ties the legacy of the original to a new batch of characters. It sees original survivor Sally Hardesty return, now played by Olwen Fouere, alongside a group of young entrepreneurs who reawaken Leatherface (Mark Burnham) as they head into the small Texas town of Harlow to renovate the area. However, Texas Chainsaw Massacre utterly fails to connect the past and present and more importantly, fails to properly introduce its new characters or pay homage to its past.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre struggles to make its new characters likeable or remotely interesting because of how tied up they are in the film’s failed “social commentary.” The main group of college-aged adults has an overt liberal mindset, so they tend to clash and put their guard up against the more conservative views and personas they perceive around them—mainly town mechanic, Richter (Moe Dunford).

The film presents possibilities of these first glance impressions and opinions being broken down so that maybe these liberal and conservative views can go to the wayside and these characters can actually find commonality or understanding with one another. Maybe there could’ve been a moment of realization within the main group that sees them essentially taking over an entire town and washing away its people and identity for their “modern” and “better” vision as basically their own version of gentrification. For some reason, though, the film never confronts or really delves into its social commentary and instead creates shallow depictions that instantly get the film off on a bad foot.

There honestly isn’t a single character in this film to root for and character relationships are paper-thin. The main sister relationship between protagonists Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Lila (Elsie Fisher) has absolutely no emotion to it and their bond as sisters never feels genuine. For the most part, Melody is constantly berating Lila and trying to control where she goes because she worries about because she survived a school shooting. An understandable worry, but their dynamic and this conflict is never explored or confronted in a meaningful way. As for everyone else, well, they pretty much exist to meet a bloody end at the hands of Leatherface—which is actually one of the film’s strengths.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre at least delivers some of the goriest kills Leatherface has ever had, with some bone-breaking and blood-spilling that’s absolutely jaw-dropping. Seriously, this film has some of the gnarliest kills of the entire franchise and there’s one sequence on a bus that delivers Leatherface’s highest kill streak. Still, though, Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s cheap visual effects sometimes stain its epic kills in unfortunate ways and that’s true of the film’s overall look as well. While the cinematography from Ricardo Diaz is stunning and the droopy-faced design of “Old Man Leatherface” is haunting, the choppy slow-motion effects of some of the action, mainly the final battle, are atrocious and Harlow looks fake as hell.

Part of what makes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise so unique in the slasher genre is its sense of realism and that’s completely absent in this film. Harlow looks like a film set and the interior of the buildings feel like dirt was just thrown onto the walls to give it an old look. There’s absolutely nothing interesting about Harlow as a setting and it’s not even played around with much to create some tense chase sequences. Aside from some hidden horrors in the shadows, there’s nothing scary about this new entry and its big chase sequences feel uninspired or ripped from better entries in the franchise.

The worst aspect of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is how it handles Sally returning, as it does a pitiful job making her return feel grand and doesn’t even try to establish a connection between the past and present. Compared to Laurie Strode’s return in Halloween, Sally’s return has no emotional stakes or depth whatsoever and she’s barely even in it to the point where her appearance is more like a glorified cameo. The film completely misses the opportunity to establish a great connection between Sally and Lila over them being survivors of madmen and really does nothing to create a real legacy or add to her character. Not even Leatherface cares to see her return and her disrespectful fate will absolutely cause the fanbase to erupt in frustration and anger.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is simply another mess in this franchise that not only fails to create a modern addition to the series, but also tries to paint itself as a legacy connector only to end up tainting that legacy even further.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now streaming on Netflix.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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