Review: ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ Tries to Construct Its Own Face From the Skin of Other, Better Film Story
Tobe Hooper’s 1974 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most original and disturbing films in the slasher genre. David Blue Garcia’s goal in his reboot/sequel seems to be to cut away everything that made the original a classic, and cobble together a much more conventional, and much less compelling, meat puppet.
The 2022 movie is set in the present-day, 50 years after the skin-mask-wearing, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Mark Burnham) murdered a carful of city teenagers slumming in rural Texas. A bunch of Austin foodies buys a small town to set up a hipster enclave.
Little do they know that one of the people they’re displacing is Leatherface’s foster mom. Predictable carnage ensues, compounded when Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré), the one person who survived Leatherface’s original murder spree, shows up for revenge.
The themes of rural/urban conflict and gentrification are more or less intact in the sequel. But the dynamic is substantially changed by making Leatherface a singular antagonist. In the original, he was part of a family of murderous cannibals, forced to eat human meat when they lost their jobs at a slaughterhouse.
In Hooper’s film, the carnivalesque, macabre nuclear unit built around grotesque consumption served as a mirror image of the ravenous capitalism that destroyed the clan’s livelihood.
In comparison to the family’s flamboyant charismatic monstrosity, the city folk were relatively drab and uninteresting; they were most memorable in death. The final image, of Leatherface standing in the road, pulled back and forth by his chainsaw, is gruesome but also weirdly poignant.
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