Benjamin Wollmuth is a writer who loves to express his opinions on literature, TV, film, video games, and other media.
Netflix's "Texas Chainsaw"
Damn, readers. Right when I thought Halloween (2018) and Scream (2022) proved that horror requels could work, Netflix releases Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a direct sequel to the 1974 horror classic that tries to do exactly what Halloween (2018) did. I can't say I was looking forward to this one. I haven't been impressed by any Texas Chainsaw sequel, prequel, remake, or reboot. No, I haven't seen all of them, but I have seen enough to know that this franchise should have died a long time ago. Whether it's the writing or the directing, none of the Texas Chainsaw films have lived up to Tobe Hooper's original, and that's just sad.
But what's wrong with this movie in particular? Why didn't it work? Let me try my best to explain my thoughts.
Spoilers lay ahead.
The Only Reason This Thing Exists
Let's be honest, people. The only reason this movie even exists is because of the success of Halloween (2018). What that movie did was act as a direct sequel to the original, erasing every other film from canon, bringing back the final girl who has grown into a badass hellbent on destroying the very thing that turned her into that badass in the first place. It's a film that showcases trauma and what it can do to a person and their family. It's also a film that gives the big, unstoppable antagonist something to fear.
2022's Texas Chainsaw Massacre tries to follow that very concept but fails miserably. And maybe it was the creators' intent to try and do something a little different, but in the end, it just didn't work. You see, Halloween (2018) worked because 1). Laurie Strode was played once again by Jamie Lee Curtis, and 2). Laurie was one of the main characters. Now, I know the original actress who played Sally Hardesty is dead, so it seems that they really had no other option but to recast her. So, my question is: Why did they bring Sally back? She shows up for maybe 10 minutes of screentime, gloats, fails to shoot Leatherface, and then gets absolutely gutted. It's like they wanted to shit on her character. She does nothing badass––she honestly gets zero time to do anything at all, unlike Laurie Strode, who not only gets a whole film of development but also gets at least some kind of win in the end, even if it doesn't last. Better yet, when the film isn't following Laurie, it's following her granddaughter, a character that is still connected to Laurie. None of the characters in Texas Chainsaw Massacre have any relation to Hardesty whatsoever, which makes her arrival even less impactful.
It's a shame, really. From the trailer I watched, it appeared that this movie was banking on the return of Hardesty, so it baffled me when she showed up for 10 minutes just to not be helpful in the slightest.
Characters No One Cares About
Sadly, Sally Hardesty isn't the only character who failed to make an impression. All of the main characters lack development and proper motivation and make extremely dumb decisions that get a lot of people killed. But that's what horror movies are supposed to do, right? Create characters that make dumb decisions so that audiences can watch them get killed... right?
Wrong. Horror doesn't have to be that way. As I like to say, an antagonist isn't scary if the protagonists are constantly walking directly into the knife. An antagonist is truly scary when they can outsmart the protagonists––when they prove to the audience that the fear is warranted. I hate to say it, but Leatherface doesn't do that in this movie. Yeah, he's bulky and menacing, but the characters walk straight into the knife, or, in this case, the chainsaw. Leatherface gets zero chance to prove he can outsmart anyone, which takes away the fear factor. Again, he looks scary, but I just can't take the iconic horror villain seriously.
This film had potential. One character, in particular, had an interesting backstory, but her redemption arch was ruined when someone else stole the kill... only to have the kill not even be a kill.
It's stupid. The ending to this film is stupid.
Leatherface: A Tragedy
So, I know I talked about Leatherface already, but it's truly tragic what this film did to him.
Firstly, we are meant to believe that after murdering those 4 teens––and presumably others before them––in the first film, Leatherface disappeared and eventually found himself under the care of some random lady in an orphanage with a layout almost identical to his house and never killed again. Then, when this mother figure dies, he goes on a rampage with a chainsaw that was buried in a freaking wall in the orphanage. I feel like there is a lot missing here. Secondly, we are shown that the guy can take a chainsaw to the face and survive, which makes absolutely zero sense because there has never been any indication that Leatherface is a supernatural being.
Once again, it's a shame, because of the many negatives this film has, the one positive is the gore, which mostly comes from Leatherface's chainsaw. It's awesome what the guy can do––it's just a shame that every character who dies walked themselves into their own demise. He's just another big, dumb antagonist who kills a bunch of dumb teens because he can. What a way to ruin a character.
The Texas Chainsaw Franchise has never been critically acclaimed. The first one is disturbing and fun but is by no means outstanding, and the films to follow get nowhere close to that bar. This franchise has not warranted any sequels or prequels, so why do we keep getting them? Perhaps it's because Hollywood is running out of ideas. Perhaps it's because they want to bring Leatherface back up to the top where Michael, Jason, and Freddy sit. Perhaps it's because they want to do something similar but are afraid to be called out for copying the Texas Chainsaw IP. I really don't care what it is. I just think this franchise needs to die. Because while Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street have all had some semi-successful sequels and reboots, Texas Chainsaw has not, and I think this sequel being relegated to a Netflix release is perfect proof of that. Hell, the Texas Chainsaw franchise has made the least amount of money compared to the three other franchises mentioned above, which goes to show how many people want to pay to see these films.
In the end, however, this is all just my opinion. I personally don't like this franchise, but if you disagree, leave a comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts and start a conversation.
© 2022 Benjamin Wollmuth