Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the Final Nail in the Franchise’s Coffin

5 min read

Liz Foster ’22

Bits & Pieces Editor

The 2022 sequel to the iconic 1973 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre continues the slew of disappointing horror remakes, sequels, and spin-offs. Texas Chainsaw Massacre released on Netflix earlier this month rocketed to the spot of the second most watched film or television series on the platform, garnering nearly 30 million hours of play. However, as more and more reviews pour in, it’s clear that the film has been a disappointment to horror fans and casual movie watchers alike. Spoilers for Texas Chainsaw Massacre lie ahead.

From the very opening minutes of the film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre gives the viewer no reason to care about its protagonists Melody and Lila. The sisters share a strong bond, and their relationship is endearing, but their characters offer nothing compelling. Lila is a victim of a school shooting and Melody is an entrepreneurial influencer. Lila’s past provides a reasonable explanation when she freezes up in moments of high tension and violence, but the two characters remained generally indistinguishable enough to require a cast list at hand while writing this article. The two take turns being the stronger one, but only one sister sees it to the end of the film’s hour and twenty-one minute run time.

Social media rarely translates tastefully to the big screen, never failing to send a cringe-worthy shudder down the spine. There is no reason for the characters of this film to be influencers, but this career serves as the justification for a group of young people buying up an entire town. The Texas town of Harlow is snatched up by the 20-somethings, Melody and her friend Dante, who got lucky on Instagram. The only use of technology in Texas Chainsaw Massacre that is both authentic and comedic is a bus full of tourists raising their cellphones to record—and go live on Instagram—Leatherface as he arrives. He revs his chainsaw and brutally slaughters the entire bus. The comments read “THIS IS SO FAKE!!!!” alongside emojis as the party bus fills with blood.  Otherwise, these attempts to modernize Texas Chainsaw fails epically.

Only one survivor remains at the end of the 1973 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Sally Hardesty. She escapes Leatherface and the slaughterhouse—more akin a slaughterhome—by hitchhiking her way into the backseat of a truck as she laughs at Leatherface. The distraught serial killer waves his chainsaw around in the air in an angry defeat. Sally lives: the final girl.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre brings Sally back only to immediately destroy the integrity of her character. Forty years after her traumatizing experience with Leatherface, she seeks revenge. Determined to hunt down her tormentor, Sally takes off to Harlow. She saves Melody and Lila as they run from the orphanage Leatherface has turned into a murder house but leaves them in the car to go pursue him herself. She faces off with him, demanding he say her name and remember what he did to her friends. He initially ignores her, but soon kills her by violently running his chainsaw through her. Sally somehow survives her fatal injuries long enough to give Melody and Lila her gun.Director David Garciareturns the most iconic survivor of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the big screen merely to reference the original film in a terrible act of fan service. Garcia destroys her character’s integrity for the sake of shock and mediocre gore.

The end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre throws its own entire plot out the window. As the two drive away from the town, presuming Leatherface to be dead after Melody attacks him with his own chainsaw and watches his body sink into a pool, they are sadly mistaken. This is a horror movie after all–and a bad one. Melodysticks her head out of the window, only to be decapitated by an alive Leatherface. Lilais left to drive away in the self-driving vehicle—reminiscent of Sally’s escape in the bed of a truck—while screaming and crying in shock and horror. In homage to the original film, Leatherface manically waves his chainsaw in the air, but this time in victory, not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s disappointment and defeat. Lila is the final girl, but she fails to hold her own as Sally did in the original. You find yourself not caring about this skeleton of a character, but merely feeling bad that Melody put in all of that work to save her sister only to meet a grisly fate.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre fails its predecessors—even the terrible ones—by reviving a series that should have remained dormant. The movie is worth watching only for the sake of being able to lament with others about its unnecessary addition to the lore of the Texas-based horror franchise. Though Netflix may be reaping the rewards of viewership, film enthusiasts and Texas Chainsaw fans have nothing to gain from this slump of a sequel.

You can find my review of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the November 2, 2021, issue of the Tripod.

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