Leatherface is back and he’s raving mad in this new “direct sequel” to the 1974 original that brings back another familiar face (no pun intended).
Melody and Dante are social media influencers who have been given the chance to turn a ghost town into a new area for people to start over. The town is Harlow, Texas. To celebrate the opening of the town, Melody brings her sister Lila and Dante brings his girlfriend Ruth. Upon their arrival, they meet Richter, who has been contracted to help fix the place. When the group finds an abandoned orphanage, they meet the owner Virginia, who was not to be there in the first place due to an issue with the bank.
When Virginia suffers a massive heart attack, the only one staying with her joins her in the ambulance. However, when she dies en route, the mystery man becomes enraged, and he soon is revealed to be someone who had disappeared over fifty years ago. That man is Leatherface, who killed four people in 1973 and when he becomes mad, the young people soon find themselves in serious danger. However, there is someone who has been waiting for Leatherface to re-appear. That person is Texas Ranger Sally Hardesty, the only survivor of the 1973 incident and she wants revenge.
It finally has arrived. The long awaited “direct sequel” to the 1974 classic Texas Chain Saw Massacre from director David Blue Garcia and the duo behind the Evil Dead remake and the Don’t Breathe franchise. The film did have its share of issues, including the dismissal of the original directors, Andy and Ryan Tohill, who after a week of filming were taken off due to “creative differences”. Garcia, a fellow Texan and cinematographer, took over and with the help of Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, did quite an impressive job at meshing the old school psyche of Leatherface with the modern-day trends of social media and cancel culture.
The new cast of would-be victims are quite an interesting bunch. Where we had Sally and Franklin Hardesty in the original film, we have Melody and Lila, played by Sarah Yarkin and Elsie Fisher. The duo are sisters, the former one an influencer who is planning to turn around a ghost town and the latter someone who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Jacob Latimore’s Dante is the headstrong partner of Melody who is somewhat responsible for the events that will come into play once they try to talk to orphanage head Virginia, played by the legendary Alice Krige. It is her death that becomes the trigger for the return of the chainsaw-wielding maniac we all come to love, Leatherface.
Mark Burnham puts on a performance that would make the late Gunnar Hansen proud as the new Leatherface. What’s very interesting here is that we get to see small glimpses of pre-face Leatherface in the close ups of his eyes. One can actually picture had Hansen had still been alive, pulling this off nicely as Burnham has these eyes that look right with the character. Once he dons his mask, he goes into full mode as one ticked-off maniac because he sees the new victims as the reason why Virginia, the only family figure he had left in his life, die in front of him. There are little nuances similar to the original where we see Leatherface show his closeness to Virginia and why it’s important he keeps her in his heart while he does what he does best.
If there is an actual flaw in the film, it’s that we don’t get enough of the original final girl, Sally Hardesty. Granted, Olwen Fouere makes the most of her screen time replacing the late Marilyn Burns. Perhaps the fact we learn she became a Texas Ranger may have been influenced by Dennis Hopper’s character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 with that character being Sally’s uncle. However, her character doesn’t feel fleshed out enough on the level of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode in the 2018 Halloween sequel and its sequels. That doesn’t take away the fact that Fouere does do a good job of what she is given.
The kill scenes, being 2022, are what we expect in today’s horror films. Yes, there is loads of the crimson stuff, but we have minimal CGI effects and more practical effects. Leatherface’s first kill is one of the most memorable because it completely comes out of nowhere and was unexpected. However, the film finally lives up to its title in a scene where to go after Lila and Melody, who are hiding on the bus full of investors, Leatherface does what he needs to do. One can only think this was inspired by the late Tobe Hooper’s story of how he came up with the original concept of the film, a Christmas-day shopping trip where too many people were in the way, and he saw chainsaws in the hardware store. However, when he is told hat he would be cancelled if he tried anything, leave it up to Leatherface to “cancel” those in his way.
So, in essence, the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a worthy “direct sequel” that doesn’t rely on any filler as the film runs at a total of 83 minutes, the same runtime was its original. The only gripe here being there should have been more Sally Hardesty in this one. Other than that, this is a solid film that is brutal and truly lives up to its name.
WFG RATING: A-
Netflix and Legendary Pictures presents a Bad Hombre/Exurbia Pictures production. Director: David Blue Garcia. Producers: Fede Alvarez, Herbert W. Gains, Kim Henkel, Ian Henkel, and Pat Cassidy. Writer: Chris Thomas Devlin; story by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues; based on the 1974 film written by Kim Henel and Tobe Hooper. Cinematography: Ricardo Diaz. Editing: Christopher S. Capp.
Cast: Sarah Yarkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Jacob Latimore, Olwen Fouere, Moe Dunford, Jessica Allain, Nell Hudson, Alice Krige, William Hope, Jolyon Coy, Sam Douglas, John Larroquette (narrator)