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Leatherface makes a tepid return at Netflix in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Review
Leatherface is back! Streaming giant Netflix is the exclusive home of the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not the first sequel or reboot in the storied franchise, but it’s a back-to-basics approach and a direct sequel to the 1974 classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, making it at least somewhat unique as a legacyquel akin to 2018’s Halloween.
The slasher is co-written by Fede Álvarez and Rodo Sayagues and directed by David Blue Garcia. Read on for what we know about the film and our Texas Chainsaw Massacre review below.
And if you haven’t watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you can check it out on Netflix by hitting the link below.
What is Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre about?
A brief logline from Netflix reads, “After nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town.”
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A longer synopsis elaborates:
Melody (Sarah Yarkin), her teenage sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), and their friends Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson), head to the remote town of Harlow, Texas to start an idealistic new business venture. But their dream soon turns into a waking nightmare when they accidentally disrupt the home of Leatherface, the deranged serial killer whose blood-soaked legacy continues to haunt the area’s residents — including Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the sole survivor of his infamous 1973 massacre who’s hell-bent on seeking revenge.
The new film is thus tied directly to a legacy character — Sally — and recreates, to some degree, the basic structure of the original 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In short, young outsiders come to town and accidentally stumble upon the Sawyer family home, where Leatherface waits.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre review
Let’s start with what works.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a mean little horror movie, with plenty of gruesome kills and bloody suspense. It also adds a fresh twist on the classic premise. While the 1974 film saw some young victims on vacation, suddenly terrorized by locals, 2022’s legacyquel adds some class conflict. The original was always concerned with class, offering a monstrous family of cannibalistic murderers who were a dark reflection of the American Dream, but the new film ramps that up with more of an overt clash between its characters.
In the new film, the victims present a new kind of twisted American Dream, as gentrifiers entering an established community to “revitalize” it with little interest or respect for what came before. Leatherface, who has lived in hiding all this time, suddenly finds his reality disturbed and goes on a rampage. It’s a solid set-up.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t quite know what to do with all that thematic material. There’s a lot of overt messaging (about class and elitism, gun violence, inter-generational trauma, housing, mental health, etc.), but none of it quite goes anywhere. It’s a collection of empty symbols that could have instead been the basis for a more thoughtful film.
Added to that is Sally’s quest for vengeance as she learns of Leatherface’s return. As a sub-plot, Sally’s story lacks any sense of meaning. Of course she holds onto her trauma and wants justice, but we don’t have access to anything but an angry woman on her own rampage. Maybe we could draw some parallels between her and Leatherface, but the film isn’t giving us much to work with.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t a complete write-off, but it’s far from a satisfying follow-up to its 1974 namesake, one of the best horror films of all time.
When and where can you watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out on Netflix on February 18, 2022.
The streamer opted to skip a theatrical release for the film. It is instead exclusively available on Netflix to subscribers internationally.
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Did you watch Texas Chainsaw MAssacre on Netflix? What did you think?