dir: David Blue Garcia
Terrible, just terrible.
Oh wait, I was talking about the current Federal election campaign, which is the worst I’ve seen since the 1990s. One other thing I haven’t seen since the 1990s – the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Is the original film good – does it stand the test of time? I can’t really say. I remember it as a terrifying and very weird film, one that has trained me, Pavlov’s dog-style, to recoil in terror every time I hear the sound of a Polaroid camera taking and printing one of its photos.
This flick, this one I’m talking about here, is a direct sequel to the original film. I am not making this up. This is meant to be the original Leatherface, the original one who chopped up Sally Hardesty’s annoying brother and friends in the original movie. How do I know this? No, they don’t get the original actor who played Sally to take part (she, being Marilyn Burns died in 2014), but she’s played by a nice leathery old lady called Olwen Fouere instead.
The thing is, and I don’t want to sound ageist, but while Sally looks like she can definitely kick some ass and shoot people, she is clearly feeling every one of the years that have passed since Leatherface killed her friends and family, tried to kill her, and failed. She’s the original Final Girl. But all that happened in 1973.
The year now, if you recently checked and marveled at what year this is, since it feels like 10 passed in the space of 3, is 2022. My math skills aren’t great, but that was like 49 years ago. Sally is in her 70s. So, not knowing exactly what age Leatherface was way back then, he is at least in his 70s, perhaps 80s.
Perhaps 90s? Is he an immortally strong chain saw wielding lunatic who derives some kind of supernatural power from chopping up people with a chainsaw, one that allows him to remain strong and impervious to damage? It’s certainly possible, because it’s the only reason I can think of as to why an octogenarian is still so spry.
I know some 80 year olds, and though some are far more active and with it than some people I know in their 40s, they often have difficulty opening cans or getting out of cars or walking without falling over.
But Leatherface? He’s like one of those rejuvenated oldies in Coke commercials who can zoom around the suburb on a BMX doing wheelies and pulling no footers on a half pipe ramp. He’s still, apparently, in his killing prime.
A group of very deliberately hateable hipsters travel from Austin, Texas to some virtual ghost town, with the idea of gentrifying it. As if they weren’t hateable enough. But this ghost town of Harlow somehow still has people living in it, which implies it hasn’t been completely abandoned. Those three people are a mean-seeming redneck mechanic who turns out to have a heart of gold (not that it stops Leatherface’s chainsaw from cutting through it), an old woman who used to run an orphanage, and a big hulking guy. We know who he is, even if no-one else does yet.
All the young hipsters, especially the two main character sisters, are barely out of their teens, so I never understood how or why they would be involved in some real estate scam to take over an abandoned town and somehow influence other hipsters to move there at a premium. To put on my forensic accountant hat for a moment, ahem “The fuck did they get the money for that from?”
Never explained. Way too much of a plothole for me. What are the old woman and the giant goon, and the mechanic are doing in the town? Whose cars is the mechanic servicing? Where is he buying his smokes from, which he shares with the younger sister, the one traumatised by having survived a school shooting (ouch, it made even me feel a bit icky to have that plot detail, but I guess to Americans it’s more commonplace: Live long enough and you’ve probably had to survive a mass shooting event at least once in your life. Or not.)
I know you might find this shocking, but the only reason there is a busload of hipsters in this abandoned ghost town in Texas (it’s really Bulgaria), is so that Leatherface has lots of people to kill.
But hark, I hear you wonder, didn’t you mention Sally Hardesty earlier in the review? Does she try to get revenge on Leatherface, and silence the voice of terror she’s carried inside her since that fateful day when she escaped his deranged clutches, and maybe watched him do that crazy dance in the morning sun?
She tries, god love her, looking like Sarah Connor from the second Terminator film except wearing a 10 gallon hat, she tries.
In case I haven’t made it clear thus far, this is an entirely terrible, worthless movie. Even if I felt some sympathy for the characters, or wanted them to survive, or thought for a moment that it would end here with good finally triumphing over evil, this film would not be able to evoke any of those feelings. Because it’s such a meaningless confection.
The people who made this flick have no doubt watched the original. I hear it’s freely available for people to watch, either on DVD or some tatty VHS copy, maybe. Or perhaps, like this, on a streaming service (this was made for Netflix, which is, just no, stop it, Netflix, you can’t compete with Shudder).
But they don’t get why Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a classic. I don’t even think the original director Tobe Hooper got it. In his whole career he never made anything like it, not even close. Even the sequel he made to this was more of a dumb comedy – I’ll also point out Leatherface died in that one.
The original was a strange, brilliant mélange of creepy images and ideas about a weird, murderous family driven demented by isolation, ignorance, or something else. A dear friend of mine has a theory that it’s a pro-vegetarianism flick, since the cannibalistic Sawyer family were all killing animals down at the abattoir before they started eating random passers-by, we can suppose, and I think she’s right.
But if you watch this flick, this stupid flick that came out this stupid year, you get nothing. Visually it’s completely uninteresting. Thematically there’s nothing going on, no idea to think about maybe except the rural / urban divide, and how city folk think anyone who doesn’t live in the cities must be a murderous hillbilly. That’s not much of an idea, because all the hipsters end up dead, all of the country folk end up dead, and Leatherface, a guy who wears a mask made of people’s faces over his own, just kills people until there are no people left.
That’s boring. It’s also not scary, not even vaguely scary, let alone qualifying as horror. There’s not a single moment in this flick a tenth as terrifying as the first moment Leatherface appears in the original, out of nowhere, when he attacks someone with a hammer, drags them into a room, and slams the door shut.
Nothing except the prospect of more dull sequels inspires fear, here.
2 reasons only that I can think anyone would want to watch this is if they like watching innocent hipsters get killed with smashed avocadoes and fancy coffee orders out of 10
“Try anything and you're cancelled, bro.” – stern words aimed at Leatherface - Texas Chainsaw Massacre