To say I was skeptical of how the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film would turn out is an understatement. As a huge fan of the series I’m always, and will always be, open to new reboots, sequels, prequels, requels and whatever new concept they conjure up of Leatherface. But when early reactions to this new film came out incredibly negative, my faith in this began to drop immensely.
For a series that has undoubtedly been plagued by very high highs and very low lows, it’s hard to really tell how any new entries will turn out; a lot of the time trying to figure out where exactly can Leatherface’s story go after all these years? Well in an era of filmmakers ditching old timelines and making direct sequels to the originals, it’s time for Leatherface’s crack at, as Mindy from Scream (2022) would call it, a requel. Meaning that not only is this a reboot of the franchise, and not only is it a sequel to the original, but to spice it up they’ve brought back the original chainsaw survivor Sally Hardesty.
The plot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) follows a group of friends led by Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Dante (Jacob Latimore), who’ve come up with a business plan to “rebuild” a nearly abandoned and broken small town, turning its conservative roots into a liberal and safe area for others to live in and visit. Along with them is Melody’s younger sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) who was only forced to come due to Melody’s fear of leaving her alone in the city. The groups plan to show off their new purchase to a bus full of pretentious and outgoing investors that comes to a halt when one of its secret inhabitants is disrupted and royally pissed off by their presence. That inhabitant also so happens to be the maniacal, chainsaw-wielding man they call Leatherface.
As much as I adore Ghostface, Freddy, Jason, Chucky and all of the iconic serial killers, Leatherface is my absolute favourite of them all. At his core, he’s a very misunderstood character who has been loyal to the only family he’s ever known, even though he’s been used as a weapon by them since the moment they laid eyes on him; but at the end of the day, he’s truly as psychotic as they come. Wearing the carved-up face of his victims and having the most violent weapon of them all in the form of a chainsaw, he takes the cake in all areas of killer expertise. While some of the Texas Chainsaw films have struggled to showcase Leatherface, this one may perhaps be one of his best showcases. He’s meaner and more violent than ever, and his costar (the chainsaw) is put to more use than ever before. I honestly don’t recall another Leatherface film that has hyped up his famous weapon even remotely close to the way this one has.
With that being said, the gore and violence are absolutely incredible and the clear star of the film. The film’s first kill is probably in my top five kills of the franchise and kickstarts an hour of constant murder spree with maybe the highest body count and gore of the series. I mean, there’s a bus full of rich, entitled people stranded in a deserted town with Leatherface and it is not wasted at all. But while most characters are here to be murdered and have little to no personality at all, there were two that I thoroughly enjoyed; Melody and her sister Lila. The way the two sisters are polar opposites, Lila being a clear fighter having been through a traumatic life-threatening event, and Melody being a sort of happy-go-lucky activist who sees the world differently than her sister. But when both lives are put on the line, they both fight tooth and nail not only for themselves but also for each other. Not to mention that I actually found both characters to be smarter than the average horror leads.
Now for what may be the biggest flaw in the film, Sally Hardesty. Even in the original, I never cared much for Sally but also respected what her character was put through and how hard she fought. She’s definitely a deserving final girl but not one that I ever necessarily rooted for. When she’s reintroduced to us in the present day, I was excited to see the transformation she’s had and the badass she would become in this new film. But if I’m being honest she was written to be a complete idiot and made all the wrong moves we’ve come to expect from horror characters. I won’t sit here and say she didn’t have some great scenes, lines and motives but it’s hard to root for someone who lacks any sort of survival skills for someone whose life story has been to survive and conquer her friend’s killer.
All in all, this was a well-shot, fun, gory time with Leatherface. Its final moments may be silly and ridiculous but this franchise has always been that way. Look at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Two and the next two installments, they’re a complete camp fest and I saw small elements of those littered throughout this one. From overwhelmingly negative reviews to the version they released today, I’d say they did something right here. This right here is what slashers are all about, and I’d be lying if I said I won’t be checking this out multiple times over the next while.