Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)
Almost 50 years ago, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre terrorized audiences. The film was initially panned for its violent nature and gore. However, it is now revered as a slasher classic that kickstarted the genre. It also added a new slasher villain, Leatherface. His most recognizable by his signature his bloody chainsaw and mask made of human flesh. There have been many remakes and sequels since the original, but the continuity always remains the same.
In this latest installment to the franchise, a group of friends finds themselves being attacked by Leatherface as they try to market the ghost town of Harlow, Texas to millennials. We meet Melody and Dante, two young entrepreneurs, Melody’s sister Lila and Dante’s girlfriend Ruth. Initially, they are not concerned when hearing rumors about the serial killer and they continue their planned event for potential buyers. This leads to an array of horrifically gory events similar to the films before it.
Similar to Halloween 2018, the original film’s “final girl” seeks revenge. A final girl is a well-known trope within the slasher genre where the last woman alive confronts the killer and lives to tell the tale. Sally Hardesty, the lone survivor from the original film, hunts down Leatherface after hearing news of his return. This trope has risen back into popularity in recent films such as Halloween (2018) and Scream (2022). Those films were able to balance bringing back past characters while also introducing a new cast.
However, in this film’s case, the appearance feels more like an extended cameo than a necessary plot device. She does aid the remaining survivors’ Melody and Lila, but her presence occurs too late when all the carnage is over. She is neither a heroine nor a savior to the characters, which leads one to wonder why she came back in the first place.
The social commentary about gun violence is essential but not broad enough to fully understand this interpretation. We learn that Lila survived a shooting at her high school. The traumatic experience has made her fearful of guns and Melody tries to shelter her from them. Later on, Lila uses Sally’s shotgun to fend off Leatherface from killing her sister. The portrayal of a gun violence victim forced to use a gun does not create a strong enough balance between trauma recovery and learning to defend herself.
Overall, the film feels lost between a sequel and a remake, completely unsure of its intentions. It includes the necessary tropes for this genre but does not attempt to subvert them compared to recent revivals.