Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 – Pleasantly Unpleasant and Surprisingly Decent

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
3.5 out of 5 stars

It has been nearly a year since we wrote our first article on the news that a new Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 film was being developed. That news originally came deep in the middle of a pandemic. Release dates were up in the air. That film has finally been released.

Our primary fears with this film surround the incessant need to continually retcon series rather than deal with the sins of the past. I personally consider The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to be untouchable canon. Considering TCM2’s explosive ending, a new film set 40-some-odd years later should have to deal with the near certain death of Leatherface.

Aside from that, any other chainsaw film that tried to get cute with the timeline has failed miserably. There have been two prequels across two Leatherface universes. Previously there had been two direct sequels to the original. All struggled mightily to be anything more than broken money grabs. My confidence that this film would break that trend hovers somewhere below zero.

Built on a Considerable Pedigree

Fede Álvarez, the man that brought use the 2013 remake of Evil Dead, split writing duties with Rodo Sayagues. Those bona fides had many clamoring for a new film. Personally I felt that Evil Dead (2013) was a painfully average film with some rather impressive visuals. The characters were lifeless and the script was lame. Barring some incredible special effects, the whole affair was lukewarm. These guys would need to step up their storytelling chops to impress me.

Also, the film ran into production issues during filming. Originally, Ryan and Andy Tohill were set to direct the film. After ‘creative differences’, these gentlemen were replaced with David Blue Garcia.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 - Fantastic Camera work by Ricardo Diaz
Fantastic cinematography by Ricardo Diaz

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 – A Familiar Refrain

In a solid move, the producers did enlist the services of John Larroquette to open the film with a monologue. Prior to his career on the Night Court television series, Larroquette famously delivered the opening monologue in the original. To be honest it wasn’t super effective this time around, but I’ll concede that the nostalgia was worth it. While this was occurring, the film made several references to the Hardesty’s and the “tragedy that befell a group of 5 youths”. Apparently there are people that never saw the original. Gasp!

A Chainsaw Massacre Sounds Good… After Meeting The Leads

The movie begins with a car full of self-righteous investors driving through the desert to a small deserted town named Harlow. They plan to auction off the historic town. This troop includes, Dante’s wife, Ruth, his business partner Melody and her troubled sister Lila. Along the way, these people pretty much act like jerks to everyone they meet on their way. First they single out a cowboy filling his truck with gas. Apparently since he carries a gun, he also has a small penis. Oh how the the turns table. It seems guns in Harlow are a good idea.

When they get to town, Dante (Jacob Latimore), finds the old orphanage manager, Virginia McCumber still living in a presumably foreclosed building. She claims that she still holds the deed to the home. Legally he thinks he has the right to ask her to leave, but he doesn’t have to be a jerk. This small act of unkindness end up being the worst mistake of his short life. Little does he know, Mrs. McCumber has been taking care of Leatherface all these years.

Once again a movie associated with Álvarez comes jam packed with people we couldn’t care less for. Somebody please get me a chainsaw.

The Action Starts Fast

Fortunately for fans, the pacing is good. They do a pretty good job finding a a quick way to mobilize Leatherface quickly and plausibly. Leatherface’s opening slavo involves tight confines, poor visibility and a heaping supply of suspense building. In what is becoming a Texas Chainsaw past-time, Leatherface makes his mask right on the spot. If this were a chess match, it could be said that David Blue Garcia successfully developed his pieces.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 - Leatherface's mask will grow on you as the blood continues to spill
Leatherface’s mask will grow on you as the blood continues to spill

Beauty In Violence

However, it’s what follows that really shines. The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre was largely defined by the outstanding camera work of Daniel Pearl. For such a low-budget affair, he really performed above expectations. His truck shot under the swing that follows Pam into the house may be among the most memorable in horror. In the 2022 version, Ricardo Diaz not only steps out of Daniel Perls shadow, but forges a brilliant legacy of his own. Diaz’s photography is absolutely stunning.

One of the more beautiful scenes depicts Leatherface plodding across a withered field of wildflowers as storm clouds roll in. Apart from that, Diaz and his lighting crew confidently frame a litany of scenes, including one of the most intense chainsaw massacres of them all. While the action on-screen is abhorrent, the visuals are deceptively pleasing to the eye.

The Return of the Man

Fortunately, the producers do a pretty good job with their depiction of their killer. Leatherface is played by a man named Mark Burnham. He does an adequate job of playing a hulking brute. While they never explicitly show a full-face view of the killer, they do show glimpses of a face that looks relatively normal. In short, they avoid the topic of facial deformities, while leaving it ambiguous enough for the people that feel they need that in their life.

In seeing glimpses of the behemoth, I felt the same sense of wonder that I did when I say the face of Michael Myers in Rob Zombie’s Halloween II. Something just feels right when I realize that under that mask of skin, it’s just another man.

Upon the initial reveal, the mask left something to be desired, but but after enough mud, blood and rainwater it began look pretty darn good.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 - Sallay Hardesty makes a return
Sally Hardesty makes a return

The Return of the Girl

In a bold move, this film reintroduces the character of Sally Hardesty. With the death of Marylin Burns, the role is taken up by Olwen Fouéré. Garcia does a great job silently introducing the character as a kind of hardened Laurie Strode type. When she hears what is happening in Harlow, she jumps in the truck to finish some business. I feel that Garcia would have been better sticking with the brooding archetype because her credibility starts to wane as speaks her lines.

I believe that the goal was to build up a once-and-for-all cathartic moment between Sally and Leatherface, but her moment get ruined by a villain that simply doesn’t care.

Sharpening The Saw

As I well explained in the preamble, my expectations for this film were subterranean. I figured that the combination of its lack of necessity, disregard of canon and production woes would ultimately sink this film. Strangely, I found myself very entertained. I mean, it has problems. For example, around the midway point of the film it dispenses with all of the things that are working well in favor of a disco style chainsaw slasher. Still, it makes this transition artfully enough to still be worth the trouble.

I for one could have dispensed with all of the social commentary dispersed throughout the film. There is a sub-plot that involves an aversion to guns and a school shooting that feels awkward and forced. Its relevance never comes to fruition in a meaningful way. to be honest, I couldn’t tell if Garcia inserted these quips as a social commentary, or rather he intended to criticize hyper-social-awareness. It did occur to me that Garcia wanted to give Social Justice Warriors and Social Media Influencers the same treatment that Hooper gave Yuppies in TCM2. For my money, I just wanted chainsaws, not politics.

Listen, this film didn’t need to be made, but it actually ranks pretty high in my book of Texas Chainsaw classics. It’s definitely in the top 5 of the franchise and its the best sequel to the original since The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. If you are a fan of the franchise, I believe that this sequel will provide some light in your otherwise joyless affair with this franchise.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 - Pleasantly Unpleasant and Surprisingly Decent - Malevolent Dark
texas chainsaw massacre 22 more fantastic photography

Director: David Blue Garcia

Date Created: 1970-01-01 00:33

Editor's Rating:
3.5

2 thoughts on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022 – Pleasantly Unpleasant and Surprisingly Decent”

  1. Great review Malevolent. I am definitely a fan of this entry.

    **Warning, this does enter spoiler territory, especially with Sally**

    So was it ’74? Absolutely not. Without multiple family member personalities dragging people into their compound it isn’t the skin crawling terror or slow psychological breakdown of the ‘outsider’. But, with that said, I loved it. I felt for the story they were telling of the last stand of the last Sawyer as the modern world pushed further and further; taking away more and more of their ability to tuck away into their own world …. Until there was no where left to be ‘out there in the middle of nowhere’ and a head on confrontation of a cornered animal happens. The brutality and quickness of many kills as well as the movements, motivations, and attack styles of Leatherface felt right on. No use of fake jump scares and plenty of situations and stalks that carry tension. It is also shot beautifully (again not in the ’74 sense) but some pretty awesomely shadowed, angled, and right length of hold on a shot. Good score too with how they used the call back cues. And the ending? Ka-pow!

    I have seen a decent amount of unhappiness with the handling of Sally across social media, so a lot of this will really focus on her involvement. I am going to take a completely opposite opinion than those criticisms. We are in a time where final girl / final survivor gets to return for the epic showdown; victim and abuser face to face with rage on both sides. If they do that here, I think they get ‘just copying Halloween ‘18, Never Hike Alone, Scream, etc.’ What’s the actual surprise move (and frankly one I’m not sure really has been done.) She isn’t ready emotionally when it finally happens. The scenario she has played out over and over in her head doesn’t come close to happening and she freezes. Leatherface has no clue (or likely just doesn’t care) who Sally and her friends were. Back then they were just more trespassing, invading animals and he has his ‘mom’s’ murderers that he needs to take care of. Sally will get no response from him to fuel her adrenaline as he walks on by. Also, she was only in one movie where we didn’t get a ton of knowing who she really was in it; just a high survival instinct as adrenaline hit (fight or flight, which doesn’t happen as she first confronts him here.) By the time she wakes up and realizes her blind tunnel vision just doomed those kids back there, she tries to help, but ends up being just what her friends were all those years ago; meat tossed aside like garbage. So, her last action is to try to help another avoid the mistakes she made that wasted her life.

    Lastly, plenty of kills I will not soon forget… I mean just that bus scene… insane!

    Overall, they did not try to mimic or remake the original and came at it with love for the material to tell their expansion/continuation; their own story of the last stand (except it is a swerve in that this is not the last stand of Leatherface vs. Sally; it’s a last stand of the re-awakened, ultimate territorial, instinctual ‘protector’ versus a modern world that finally took every aspect of his way of life (well, maybe; cough post-credit cough)).

    Worthy of the Texas Chainsaw moniker, which definitely cannot be said of all the entries.

    1. Thanks Chris. We can always depend on you to tell it how it is. I think your perspectives are right on. It didn’t occur to me until after letting it set in for a couple of hours after that the producers launched a few shots across the bow of the horror industry. This came in two bundles, the first was the direct affront to Internet influencers and cancel culture, the second challenged the “Legacy Avenger” trope. As we were all rolling our eyes at the prospect of another cathartic showdown, David Blue Garcia pulled a bait and switch.

      As a fan of the franchise for decades, I felt that this one had a lot more going for it than most of the slop that I have been force fed over the years. Don’t get me wrong, it has problems for sure, but it’s respectable. Thanks again for your continued comments. They are always welcome!

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