When it comes to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, there are so many sequels, remakes, prequels… I have no idea where this new one falls under. The only Texas Chainsaw Massacre film that matters to me is the second one. I reviewed it a few years ago for Horror Month. http://writetoreel.com/part-2-texas-…double-feature
If you add them all up, I think we have 4 Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels, though they loosely or don’t connect at all, with Leatherface being the only connective tissue.
Then there’s one remake and two prequels, with the last just titled Leatherface. And I have no idea where Texas Chainsaw 3D falls under, as it’s not really a sequel or a remake… it wants to be a sequel to the first film, but it has no idea what year it should be set in.
There is technically an unofficial sequel to the 2003 version titled Butcher Boys. Originally it was meant to be a direct sequel, channeling parts of the original TCM 2 movie. But because of rights I think, the project fell through.
But they still made it, rewriting it to be its own thing. However, if you know going into it that this was a for the most part a remake of TCM 2, the similarities are blatantly clear. I bring this movie up a lot because I genuinely love it and its crazy batshit ending.
As soon as the trailer dropped for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, the first thing I commented on was the characters and how unlikable they were going to be, how I was going to hope for them all to die in the end. And since I’m always right about things I don’t want to be right about, that’s exactly what ended up happening.
A cast of terrible people I just want to see get a chainsaw to the face. And boy howdy do we get that and more. One thing I can say about this franchise, they never shy away from how gory it is. Closest we got to a PG-13 I think was maybe Texas Chainsaw 3D, who dropped the “Massacre”. And of course, the original film, which was practically bloodless.
The new Netflix version doesn’t shy from the gore, but you can clearly tell where it got its influence from and it isn’t any of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, but the new Halloween reboot/sequels whatevers.
It’s the hottest new trend of ignoring the previous sequels and only act like the original happened. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 never happened.
But even saying this is a sequel to the 1974 original is kind of a stretch. Leatherface belongs to the Sawyer family, a group of cannibals. If you didn’t know, Leatherface got the nickname since he has a penchant for wearing the faces of the people he has killed.
In Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation they took that to the extreme by just making him a transvestite who loves lady faces.
But in those films, he made them into masks, in the Netflix version he just slaps it on like a wet towel. I have no idea how it stays on.
I’m guessing after the events of the 1974 film, Leatherface left his family and went back to a small town where he lived with this old lady who runs an orphanage.
An orphanage I guess he was at as a kid? Huh?
And I guess for 50 years he’s just been living there, hanging out. But now the evil influencers have arrived to ruin his peaceful retirement.
I guess now we have to talk about our deadmeat characters.
One thing I will point out right away, this film is short. I mean suspiciously short, the kind of short where a bunch clearly must have been cut from the final cut.
If I had to guess, of course I’m saying this without having read the script, but I’d say a good portion of this film was removed. About 45 minutes at least.
And if I had to guess just what it was, they removed, my theory is our deadmeat characters. So, there’s a pretty good chance there’s a cut of this film out there with an extra 45 minutes spent dealing with these annoying little shits.
Also, maybe they might have cut some of Leatherface’s backstory. Because him living with this old woman at an orphanage for all these years makes absolutely zero sense to me.
It could also be that a whole other film was shot, but the studio hated what was filmed, so they fired everyone and got this other director to do it. Not sure his timeline but I’m sure he needed to do a quick turn around and deliver something fast. Or in this case maybe short.
Our main character for the most part is Lila, her deal is she’s a survivor of a school shooting, because of course she is. This film does this a lot throughout. It seems it wants to say something, but the message is all mixed up, so in the end you have no idea what it is they want to say.
Lila is along for the ride as her sister Melody, who by the way is the most annoying unlikable character in the whole movie, and her business partner Dante, who I believe… one of them is a chef. I just can’t remember which.
Melody and Dante live in Austin Texas but bought up a ghost town in the rural area of deep south Texas. I’m also not completely sure what their plan is.
It seems they want to move in a bunch of other influencers, like Tiktokers or YouTube shitheads to… I guess have a whole utopia full of annoying shitheads.
But right now, they are there to have auctions, selling off properties they acquired.
One of those properties however is the old orphanage.
The only other character I liked was Richter, a name I’ve never heard of before. Could be a last name, don’t know. Whole time I thought they were mispronouncing “Richard”. Or maybe because I just finished the first season of Reacher, but “Reacher”.
Richter is a deep south, don’t tell me what to do kind of shitkicker. He’s the handyman and mechanic hired by Dante to spruce up the town before the auction starts. He’s also the first one Melody insults when she sees the gun on his hip.
What really sets everything off is when they spot an old, tattered confederate flag hanging by the window of the orphanage.
Dante and Melody show themselves into the house where we spot Leatherface sitting in his armchair made of bones.
He’s not wearing a mask, so you get a pretty good look at him. He’s just this normal looking dude, just tall. Much like Myers in the new Halloween film.
Getting kind of ahead of myself, but also like the new Halloween film, we are introduced to Sally, the girl who managed to get away in the first film. She’s now played with the old lady from Mandy, which was driving me nuts because I knew I’d seen her in something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
She’s a Texas ranger, battle ready like Laurie Strode was in Halloween and Halloween Kills. Also like those movies she spent her whole life thinking he will come for her, but when Sally and Leatherface faceoff, he really couldn’t care less about her.
In Halloween it was way more impactful. You actually got to see how this screwed up her life, living in fear. Her thinking that one day he will come back for her, but it turns out he couldn’t care less. In this movie, we barely spend any time with this Sally character. Not like this is the same actress that portrayed her either since she died back in 2014.
Since it’s not the same actress reprising her role, it feels less exciting when the two do eventually have their showdown. This character really could have been anybody.
Hell, it could have been yet another thing cut from the movie.
Before I get into the rest of the story, I do want to say some good things about it. For one the direction is really nice. The movie has some really nice shots in it.
For example, in a dried out sunflower field where Leatherface just rises up from it.
A lot of other really cool scenes as well.
And the gore, like I mentioned before, they do not hold back. And it isn’t just your standard kills, as they do manage to mix it up a bit.
Any gorehound will be pleased. They also aren’t afraid to let him use his chainsaw, as we do get a slightly gleeful scene where Leatherface cuts down everyone in the influencer party bus they all came in.
After tweedle dee and tweedle dum break into the orphanage to take the flag down, they get confronted by the old lady that still lives there. She claims to still have the deed to the house, while Dante says otherwise.
During this confrontation, the lady has a heart attack. There aren’t any ambulances around, so the cops that showed up to evict her now have to rush her and Leatherface to the hospital.
Along for the ride is Dante’s girlfriend Ruth. I really didn’t have much of an issue with her, mainly because I don’t think she said more than a couple of sentences up until now. But I don’t know why she tagged along other than they didn’t know what to do with her character or they needed another person to kill.
The old lady dies in transit, enraging Leatherface and igniting his rage, killing everyone in the van.
This is also where he gets his new mask, donning the old lady’s face in remembrance.
Back in town, Richter confiscates everyone’s keys since it might be that Dante actually doesn’t have the deed to the orphanage, being slightly responsible for this lady’s death.
Melody and Dante search the house to see if she was lying or not about the deed, where they do eventually find it. They also find Leatherface as he knocks half of Dante’s face off.
Now that I think about it, I don’t remember if he lives or not. I know he does make it out of the house with his jaw missing but after that…
They prop him against a wall and we kind of just forget about him. I guess he died.
Melody gets trapped in the house, hiding in a closet, then under the bed as Leatherface searches for her.
Richter comes in to investigate when he finds Dante, only to get his head brutally bashed in.
Melody tries to make an escape but falls under the house. There’s actually a fun scene here where she’s crawling away from Leatherface’s chainsaw, which I guess he kept in a wall all these years, but as she’s crawling away, he hits a sewage pipe, leaking shit all over Melody as she flees.
Obviously at this point you start to get the feeling these characters were made to be unlikable, where you’re actively rooting for them to be killed off.
The issue with that is, I found myself completely uninvested with what happens next. So much so, I started dozing off through some of this. I had to rewind a few times because whenever I woke back up, someone new had died.
It’s okay to have an unlikable character, but they have to find a way to redeem themselves or we end up really not caring what happens to them. That’s horror movie character 101, guys.
Unless the point is to root for Leatherface. Kind of reminds me of that new Home Alone movie where the robbers are the good guys, and the kid is portrayed as the little shit villain.
But then again, the robbers weren’t wearing another person’s face while wielding a chainsaw.
Eventually Sally shows up after hearing Lila’s pleads for help over the CB radio. And the battle lasts for like 5 seconds before Leatherface runs his chainsaw through her. Glad you brought the character back, guys!
After that the only ones left alive are Melody and Lila. They do try to redeem Melody a bit by making her feel bad about kind of killing the old lady, but too little, too late in my opinion.
I won’t spoil the ending, but the two survivors do end up getting cut down to one, ending with Leatherface’s famous happy chainsaw dance.
I went into this kind of already knowing what to expect. The trailer doesn’t shy away from how annoying the main characters are going to be, they give you plenty of Leatherface, so you know you’re at least getting your chainsaw killing in.
But here is kind of the thing, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films weren’t all about Leatherface. Sure, he stands out like any giant chainsaw wielding brute wearing someone else’s face would, but it was a family of killers.
Each just as memorable, hell Chop Top from part 2 out shined Leatherface. God let’s not forget Matthew McConaughey and his wonky robot leg in The Next Generation.
The last few TCM films have solely focused just on Leatherface, removing the whole family aspect. That honestly takes a lot of the originality away from the movies.
I think that’s why I really like the 2003 remake. Not only was it well shot, but it didn’t just have Leatherface as our main killer. There’s only so much you can do with a silent chainsaw wielding maniac before it kind of gets old.
I think I might rate Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre a RENT. It has some major issues, unlikable main characters, an idiotic plot that makes no sense and a franchise that can’t seem to stand on its own trying to ape off the success of Halloween (2021).
However, it features some nice kills and some really pretty shots that I haven’t seen in a TCM film since the remake. That alone does bump it up from a SKIP.
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