Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. The movie was violent, bloody and gory— just like the title. A young girl named Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) and her friends are hunted by a man who carries a chainsaw. There are endless screams and frightening moments, but one girl survives the traumatic ordeal, Sally, also known as The Final Girl in the horror genre. There have been many sequels, prequels, and reboots about Leatherface, and David Blue Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre happens to be a direct sequel/requel to the original Hooper movie.
The movie centers around a group of influencers Melody (Sarah Yorkin), her teenage sister Lila (Elsie Fisher), Dante (Jacob Latimore) and Ruth (Nell Hudson) as they head toward the town of Harlow, Texas to start a small business. Lila hates every second of the trip, but Melody plans to move to the ghost town and bring her younger sister with her. They discover that an old lady (Alice Krige) lives in one of the buildings and request the police remove her from the property, as she does not own it anymore. Before the party guests arrive, the police escort her out of the house, but she has a coughing fit, and her son appears out of nowhere and carries her to the back of the vehicle. When the old lady dies, her son, who is revealed to be Leatherface (Mark Burnham), goes on a killing spree. The nightmare of the serial killer continues, and the sole survivor of the infamous 1973 massacre, Sally (Olwen Fouéré) comes back to seek revenge.
Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a fresh perspective, just as the original movie explored the social and political concerns of that time, such as the Vietnam War and the issues of the Nixon-era. The new movie looks at the concerns of our current time, with a large focus on gentrification. As young entrepreneurs, who live in the city, arrive to gentrify the small ghost town of Harlow, it creates a conflict within the few locals in the community who prefer to be left alone and respected. While simultaneously, Lila deals with her own internal trauma related to being a survivor of a tragic school shooting. Her overprotective older sister, Melody, wants to protect her from any mishaps and tries everything to prevent Lila from going astray. As Lila confronts the terror of Leatherface, she begins to overcome her trauma through confronting the serial killer.
Within this film, Sally Hardesty returns with a thirst for revenge. In Hooper’s original movie, she doesn’t have any purpose as a character, and is overall just a blank canvas. Even though Burns’ performance was raw and palpable, screaming at the terror and trauma that her character had gone through, this new iteration takes Sally to a whole new level. The movie opens up with a small introduction to what happened to Sally after the tragic event. The last time the audience saw her was when she sat in the back of a truck, bloodied and terrified out of her mind, but alive. This time around, she goes back to town and becomes a sheriff to spend the rest of her life searching for the man who killed her friends forty years ago. She carries a photograph of her friends with her all the time to remind her of her personal mission. It’s a rewarding experience to watch Sally take control of the situation and face her demons. For fans of the original, it will be an exciting moment to watch Leatherface and Sally engage head-to-head after all these years have passed.
In this sequel, Leatherface has been deprived of his chainsaw, which is hidden inside the walls of the old lady’s building. When he finally breaks the wall to retrieve his most precious chainsaw, there is no stopping him. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is filled with bloody kills, and as the title promises, a massacre inside a party bus soon follows in the movie. Characters are sawed in half, limbs are torn off, and blood splatters everywhere, as Leatherface brings a reign of terror to the guests in town. All of this bloodshed because Lila and her friends disrupt his home. His night of terror never ends, as the serial killer viciously attacks Melody and Lila. The grudging fascination of seeing blood splatter and characters having their head smashed in makes the gore even more terrifying. The shots of characters’ bodies getting decapitated are shot and cut carefully, only focusing on kills that make the audience squirm out of discomfort, but there are certainly instances that will raise an eyebrow.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an interesting sequel with a plot that might seem wildly familiar to diehard fans. The movie has several easter eggs that will excite those familiar with the past installment, such as the sunflower field where the original film takes place. There are so many gruesome moments that Garcia relishes that even Hooper would love. But perhaps the most amazing part of the movie is that Sally fulfills her mission to take on Leatherface face-to-face. Latimore and Hudson are given a considerate amount of time to show their skills in the horror movie, and the former is splendid in navigating his character, even though Dante faces racism and falls into the racially-emphasized overused horror tropes that have haunted the genre since it began. And, although modern horror movies have made grand strides in subverting these tropes, this just shows that there is more work to be done.
Overall, if you’re looking for a grimy and gory slasher film to put on in an afternoon, this is probably in your wheelhouse!
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