Texas Chainsaw Massacre Synopsis: After nearly 50 years of hiding, Leatherface (Mark Bunrham) returns to terrorize a group of idealistic young friends who accidentally disrupt his carefully shielded world in a remote Texas town.
Whether audiences want them or not, horror remakes remain a viable commodity to Hollywood executives. Most remakes implement the same methodical approach, often meshing nostalgic homages alongside an undercutting modern edge. Several of these endeavors sincerely reenergized their storied brands, but the bombardment of like-minded reimaginings is starting to create dwindling results for the ever-popular trend.
Rolling in as its third brand reboot of the millennium, Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre represents the franchise’s most shameless and dysfunctional revival yet. The film, which tellingly endured a mid-shoot director change, exists as a mere shadow of its storied predecessor. Only the most diehard of slasher fans will be able to appreciate what is yet another in a long line of tired horror retreads.
Everything about this reboot feels wrong from jump street. Screenwriter Chris Thomas Devlin unsurprisingly takes audiences back to the harrowing atmosphere of Harlow. Following a group of socialites reinventing the town into business enterprises, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the latest reboot to force a modernist bend alongside the countless homages.
Neither element draws much inspiration. By envisioning every character as an obnoxious, one-dimensional cartoon, Delvin lacks humanity and genuine insights with his lackluster social commentary. Our vapid protagonists only really exist as meat puppets for Leatherface to butcher alongside his nonstop onslaught. As for Leatherface himself, attempts at recapturing the original’s haunting allure fall sadly by the wayside.
Both plotlines feel completely dissident in their onscreen synergy, never finding a way to marry the combination into a seamless package. Mixed into a barely-feature-length 73-minute offering, Devlin and company feel like they are just throwing ideas at the wall to see if they stick. None of the modernist commentaries on gentrification and social media shallowness strikes a genuine chord, while the narrative fails to generate much excitement for its returning fan favorites.
As a horror vehicle, Massacre isn’t entirely toothless. Replacement director David Blue Garcia possesses a keen understanding of bloody slasher setpieces, creating enough memorable murders to keep the sinking narrative somewhat afloat. That said, a few well-placed kills still can’t mask the film’s overwhelming brokenness, with Garcia’s inspired efforts only slightly propping up a feature defined by its dysfunctional pre-production process.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre aspires to continue the legacy of its storied predecessor. Instead of reigniting interest in Leatherface’s murderous mayhem, this tired reboot is likely to bury the Texas Chainsaw brand for years to come.