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Texas Chainsaw Massacre


‘…this lazy, ugly Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a similar path to the Halloween franchise, but is likely to satisfy only the most easily-scared genre fans…’

Note the lack of a “the” at the start of this revised title; the definite article added to titles like The Batman or removed from Joker seems to have been shorn from this sequel to the infamous 1974 shocker. That’s perhaps not the most alarming thing about David Blue Garcia’s gnarly horror flick, but the ninth entry in a ‘who-cares?’ franchise contents itself by depicting what must be just one of a number of on-going Texas Chainsaw Massacres, it’s hard to keep track. There’s the Tobe Hooper original, a famously wayward 1986 Dennis Hopper comedy sequel, and even a reboot with rom-com stars Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger; congrats to anyone hardy enough to stay this particular bloody course.

The original film was banned in the UK when I was a teenager; on a trip to Troutdale, Portland, I rented a VHS from my local store and sat down to watch it. ‘It’s not really got started yet,’ I explained to a passing flatmate who squinted at the screen and replied ‘No, that looks like the last ten minutes.’ And indeed it was; supposedly the most terrifying film ever made was unfolding without much evidence of skill or finesse. The sole twist that I could discern was that the maniac pictured on the film’s poster was just one of a family of cannibal butchers praying on the unwary, an angle largely missing from this slick, sick reboot.

Treating the events of the first film only as canon, we join a group of present-day gentrifiers, influencers, or possibly just annoying young people who travel to the ghost town of Harlow which they’ve unwisely bought the deeds to. The social media obsessed party-animals evict an old woman from her own grizzly home, unaware that she still has a legal deed that allows her to stay there, and she promptly dies of heart failure in the back of a sheriff’s car. Her grieving son is a big, nasty-ass man who starts removing the faces of pretty much everyone he meets, and starts methodically working his way through cops, partygoers and anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path.

‘Try anything and you’re cancelled, bro’ is the idle threat made by one partygoer as he live-streams an encroaching Leatherface; needless to say, our monster is not swayed by anxieties about social media embarrassment and promptly makes a busload of teens pop like a tomato in a microwave. Leatherface doesn’t say much, if anything at all, so there’s plenty of room to shoe-horn in such modern hot-button topics as gentrification, social media and high-school shootings; this last element is artlessly resolved when a school-shooting victim finally picks up a gun to defend herself. In a cast best left unidentified, Irish actress Olwen Fouere is the only one to make an impression as a cop, sheriff or possibly ranger who returns to Harlow to confront her tormentor.

As brutish and truncated as the title suggests, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is some lowest common denominator horror that lets loose with fountains of gore from the halfway point onwards, but whatever tension or energy the original film had is replaced with grim foreboding; you’ll be reaching for your phone to find light relief. Netflix is becoming the natural home of busted cinema movies that no-one wants to distribute; this lazy, ugly Texas Chainsaw Massacre follows a similar path to the Halloween franchise, but is likely to satisfy only the most easily-scared genre fans.


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  1. “Netflix is becoming the natural home of busted cinema movies that no-one wants to distribute,” is an astute point. So very true. Many have said it is becoming harder and harder to find something to watch on the platform. (I know I’ve had difficulties . . . but I applaud them for carrying Cobra Kai, which turned out better than I imagined.)

    The free-with-ads stream service Tubi in the U.S. has that same skewed business model as Netflix — only with self-produced indie streamers. Many of those Tubi-based indies never hit the pay-stream platforms (mostly Amazon, which will allow ANYTHING to be uploaded), they go straight to Tubi (another like-platform in the U.S. is Pluto TV).

    Some of those indies may be under a distribution shingle (not financed by the shingle, but purchased from the filmmaker after the fact), but that shingle’s business model is more about quantity and not quality, as they flood the marketplace with mostly inferior product, going for volume sales across a spectrum of titles and not betting all the chips on one title. One of those shingles, Indie Rights Movies (which is a hit and miss with most of their titles), now forgoes Tubi and shifted to releasing their films outright as free-with-ad streams via their own You Tube channel. They don’t even release screeners for critic reviews, any longer.

    Recently, there’s been many “Tubi Exclusives” appearing on the channel. One of their new titles stars Tony Todd (!). I didn’t stream it (at least not yet), but if your film stars Tony Todd and you go straight to ad-streaming. . . . You’ll also noticed these Netflix and Tubi films are not receiving hard media releases — DVD or Blu: the demand just isn’t there. That physical media market, outside of the A-List titles, is dead.

    • Tony Todd aside, this comment is too interesting to be ignored. I’ll do a little research and get back to you, but my general feeling is that cinema, and indie cinema in particularly, is not being well-served by the streaming wars…

  2. I finally got around to seeing the original in a ropey old cinema beside Victoria Station in London. It was one of the first to treat lunatic murderers as just lunatics and not arguing with them, just get out of the way, but there’s always some stupid teenagers who think it won’t happen to them. Just as well because otherwise there would be no modern horror.

    • But it’s films like this make heroes of them, and I’m not down with that. He’s wronged and takes revenge on horrible social media users…

      • See. There’s the problem: Slasher movies have no motive or message. They just are. This one has a “message” against social media and how it has dumbed-down society. Ugh. No messages in my horror, please.

        Oh, that abysmal The Day the Earth Stood Still remake with it’s environmental message! Argh! I couldn’t load my old copy of Earth vs. Flying Saucers quick enough and get down and dumb with my sci-fi.

        • Agreed. Have a review of The Power on ice, but it’s about that exact thing; messages are for the Western Union, I don’t want to see Freddy Kruger offing woke teenagers….

    • She was literally the one boy one who managed to give it some gravity; the original 74 actress had passed away. While I have my issues with this film, I can see the Halloween crowd digging it; once the first half was over, it was a regular killathon. And I guess there’s no more obvious hate figures right now than rich, young, Insta kids…

    • You hit the nail on the head: the cast is the thing and the cast in these reboots are mostly unlikable . . . both as (bad) actors and as worse characters. You want them to pop like tomatoes to get it over with.

    • Wasn’t quite as bad as I’d been led to believe, a couple of the jump scared worked, but very much a knockoff of the Halloween reboot for sure.

  3. How many people are going to watch this just based on the clip you mention (also in the trailer) of the idiots taking pictures of Leatherface with their phones just before getting mulched? I mean, I would.

    Hooper’s movie was great but the rest of the franchise was trash. The reboot thingy was like all the 21st century horror reboots in being excessively grim. Not sure what the goal is with this one. Just a chance to kill off a new generation of annoying teens or young people probably. Who doesn’t want to see that?

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