Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 22 minutes, Director – David Blue Garcia
A group of young entrepreneurs looking to revive an abandoned, small Texan town encounter an angered and lingering, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Mark Burnham).
“This is a chance for people to start over fresh, away from the madness and the violence” words spoken all too soon, with something of a knowing wink to the audience, as we know we’re about to meet the crazy locals still living within the small, otherwise abandoned, Texan town of Harlow. It’s the base for a group of young entrepreneurs hoping to transform the area into a tourist hotspot with plenty of dining outlets and attractions, bringing the area into the modern day while still keeping its traditional aesthetic. It’s something that this latest take on the titular Texas Chainsaw Massacre somewhat tries to do itself in its legacy to the original film, which it acts as a legacy sequel towards. There are certainly some traditional feeling elements to it as a whole, particularly the general simplicity of the narrative and slasher elements, and yet one or two more modern leanings and twists; to, of course, bring in newer audiences. It’s the kind of thing that the latest Scream film picked apart so well.
As the newly arrived quartet (Elsie Fisher, Sarah Yarkin, Jacob Latimore, Nell Hudson) arrive they discover an old woman (Alice Krige) living in the town’s orphanage. While disputing that she still has a right to live in the property she collapses, leading to an ambulance being called to tend to the woman – alongside her lurching son. It’s here that we begin to see the resurgence of Leatherface (Mark Burnham). The chainsaw-wielding villain of the franchise, back once again to create some truly gory kills. If there’s one thing that sets this film apart from the original it’s undeniably the levels of blood and gore throughout. The initial introduction of such elements truly has an impact and stays with you to create a sense of tension as figures try to hide from an increasingly enraged Leatherface.
The tension is used well as Leatherface makes his way back to the town to his unsuspecting, and panicked, victims. As they try to hide we see sustained scenarios instead of lots of running away and screaming. It still manages to fit in well to the very short 82 minute run-time that the piece holds and such feelings are largely held by the presence of the core antagonist. When not quite focusing on him being nearby and the threat that he poses certain sequences do feel slightly more drawn out then they perhaps should be, especially an extended idea involving Yarkin’s Melody watching his attacks from under a bed. Yet, perhaps the most impact comes in the running and the screaming of the final 20-25 minutes, where things do feel too drawn out and generally repetitive.
It’s perhaps an effect of the ‘legacy’ nature of this sequel. Bringing in Olwen Fouéré as a vengeful Sally Hardesty – the soul survivor of the events from the first film almost 50 years ago. She’s very much in 2018 Laurie Strode mode, however with a fair deal less impact and screen-time. Things feel slightly off-balance and out of place when dealing with her character due to the little amount that she has to do, and indeed only seems to be present for something close to fan service and to make the connection to the original 1974 Tobe Hooper flick. Such brief moments just simply don’t fit in as well as they perhaps hope to do. Yet, within the short nature of the film overall it’s not long until we’re back in the sustained world of Harlow. A town which seems inescapable to those trapped there with an almost faceless, murderous giant. There are plenty of effectively gory kills which, while one moment feels as if it goes a bit overboard, help to boost the tension for the characters as you wait to see if they are indeed next. It may dip as it goes along, however there’s still an enjoyable legacy sequel here to enjoy, even if the legacy elements don’t quite strike the right note of familiarity.
While the legacy elements of this legacy sequel don’t quite work there’s a nice level of tension, and undeniable gore, within Texas Chainsaw Massacre to make it an enjoyable enough slasher flick before it begins to decline and repeat itself.