Monday, February 21, 2022

A Texas Ghost Town Encounter: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher and Mark Burnham

It's been a while since we got another timeline for our favorite powertool-wielding, face-wearing Texan, isn't it?

Picking up decades after the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, we follow young entrepreneurs Melody and Dante as they travel to Harlow, a supposedly abandoned Texas town, to auction off its properties to visiting buyers eager to turn the area into a trendy, gentrified haven. Tagged along with them is Dante's girlfriend Ruth and Melody's sister Lila, and things go off on a rather rocky start when, while inspecting an old orphanage, the group discovers it is still occupied by an elderly woman named Virginia who claims she still owns the building. An argument breaks out and ends with cops being called, Virginia's heart acting out from the stress and the last of her ward, a towering silent man, accompanying her as she's taken to a hospital. 

It all goes downhill from here when, while the teens busy themselves with the arriving real estate party, Virginia passes away in her ward's arms, triggering a murderous psychosis in him as it's revealed he's none other than Leatherface, the maniac responsible for the 1973 murders, hiding in plain sight all these years. Now making his way back to Harlow, leaving a trail of bodies behind, Leatherface sets his eyes on slaughtering anyone that comes across his path, this including our doomed little business group and a busload of gentrifying influencers.  

While "legacy sequels" like Halloween (2017) and Candyman (2021) busy themselves expanding the lore of the franchise while trying to do its own thing, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) does little of the world building and more on running a bonafide straightforward B-flick slasher that's only in it for blood, guts and chainsaw carnage.

The plot is fairly simplistic, practically a hack 'n slash horror flick in its bare bones as it centers more on putting Leatherface on a solo villain act, with the rest of the Sawyer clan nowhere to be seen or are even mentioned. Its quick pacing meant the bodycount starts ramping up as soon as our killer Texan could grab hold of something sharp and pointy, and it doesn't stinge on the gore as practical and CG effects meld well here to deliver the gruesome goods, this including a bleak and nihilistic bus scene that will go down as one of slasher history's messiest climax, earning this movie's infamous title. 

These being the case, however, it does mean that writing isn't this film's best forte: with a story that focuses more on a killer and his kills, the rest of the characters hardly have any other personality apart from what they present outward, thus are thin on being interesting and/or likable. Plot holes are ever present, like how exactly Leatherface ended up living with Virginia in her orphanage after the events of the original film or the fact that our maniac is looking pretty sturdy and seemingly bulletproof for someone who's supposedly in their 70s to 80s. (I mean, it's been five decades, man! How is he not shriveled? Or riding a motorized scooter?!) There's also the matter that the film wasted potential elements that could have made this film a bit more engaging by mishandling and/or barely exploring ideas such as the real estate property sale, one of our main character's little history as a school shooting survivor, or having Sally Hardesty, the one who got away from Leatherface's massacre of '73, come back as a ranger grabbing the opportunity to end the monster haunting her all of these years. These little snippets could have been more but, no, they're there for five minutes and nothing else.

A clumsy execution, true, but if you're looking to entertain yourself with a back to basics slasher, these are nothing but small expected misfires. If anything, I'm just glad this film didn't try to reinvent itself much, staying true to the isolated Southern fried tone of the original with gorgeous scenery, worthwhile cinematography and a dash of dark humor to go along its carnal atrocities. (Yeah, let's see how well those social media likes can protect you from a gas powered cutting tool) The onscreen talents are alright despite the simple script and the take on Leatherface here is among the best I've seen for a good long while, an intimidating hulk of muscle and rage under his freshly skinned face mask, though somewhat still sympathetic as you kinda feel for his loss. Shocks and scares also has a genuine attempt here as the direction did play with our expectations a bit, especially around the beginning wherein who to trust and not gets juggled around to a good extent.

To put it short, I really enjoyed this. It's a bodycounter poking holes here and there, but makes up for it with tons of horrific fun meant to satisfy gore hounds and slasher purists. A blood soaked butchery in its sincerest form, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is a definite keeper!  

1 elderly female suffers through a heart attack
1 male had his hand broken, stabbed in the neck with a bone
7 victims seen dead from a school shooting (flashback)
1 male shot on the neck, brained with an air tank
1 female gutted with a metal shard
1 male hacked and mutilated with a meat cleaver, bled to death
1 male had his neck stabbed unto a window shard, head pulped with a sledgehammer
1 male decapitated with a chainsaw
1 male gutted with a chainsaw
1 male eviscerated with a chainsaw
1 male ran through with a chainsaw
1 male slashed with a chainsaw
1 male sliced down with a chainsaw, leg cut off
1 victim ran down with a chainsaw (mostly offcamera, screams heard)
1 victim slashed with a chainsaw (mostly offcamera, screams heard)
1 male gutted with a chainsaw
1 male ran down with a chainsaw (mostly offcamera, screams heard)
1 male seen with a missing arm, killed
1 male ran through with a chainsaw
1 female ran through with a chainsaw
6 victims seen slaughtered with a chainsaw
1 female sliced in half with a chainsaw
2 females and 1 male presumably killed offcamera with a chainsaw
1 female ran through with a chainsaw
1 female decapitated with a chainsaw
Total: 38

No comments:

Post a Comment