Taken from TAG24: Netflix’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a real buzzkill

Taken from TAG24: Netflix’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a woke buzzkill

By Rey Harris

Netflix released The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Friday, and the latest addition to its growing catalog of horror films East pull our chain – but not in a fun way.

Mark Burnham as Leatherface in the all-new Texas Chainsaw Massacre. © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

My love of horror started like most kids in the 90s: with an obsession with RL Stine’s Goosebumps books. Soon after, I saw the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street – at a young age that now seems very questionable – and it changed my life.

Of course, I was terrified. It gave me nightmares for weeks. But…I quickly fell in love with it and the whole glorious bloody genre.

So to say I was excited when Netflix announced they were bringing the ninth movie in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM) franchise to life would be an understatement.

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The original 1974 TCM movie directed by Tobe Hooper is one of my favorites and is widely considered a cult classic.

In Netflix’s newest release, we follow a group of Gen Z doers who travel on a bus full of investors to Harlow, Texas, intent on gentrifying the small town. The plan is to buy a property so they can make everything cute and Brooklyn-like. Somehow, they end up pissing off our beloved villain Leatherface, who – for some reason – hasn’t killed youngsters in 50 years.

The film struggles to satisfy fans of the original while trying to appeal to a new generation of horror fans, but it fails on both counts. The result is a buzzkill, and not the thrilling genre that horror fans are hoping for.

Texas Chainsaw Really Wants You Awake

(Left to right) Elsie Fisher, Sara Yarkin, Nell Hudson and Jacob Latimore in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

(Left to right) Elsie Fisher, Sara Yarkin, Nell Hudson and Jacob Latimore in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre. © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

The best thing about early horror movies is that the genre was new but niche, and shamelessly not for everyone.

By nature, it’s an over-the-top and, in some ways, playful genre that should be taken with a grain of salt, and some of the best horror movies openly embrace the idea. This quality has always set horror apart from most other cinematic genres, but too many modern horror films seem to forget it.

The most recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre does what most other iterations of the franchise have also tried and failed time and time again: it takes itself far too seriously.

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Netflix’s attempt to write a background plot by giving the main characters stories that highlight modern staples. They use lots of slang and pop culture terms to display their liberal outlook while smugly judging the small town they are visiting. The movie seems to try to portray them as admirable, but they end up portraying themselves as liberal morons. (And I say this as a douchey liberal myself.)

I wanted to like the update, because the whole “Texas is weird” idea was definitely part of Hooper’s MO when he made the first two TCM movies. It’s part of the quirky charm of the show and why people still watch the movies after all these years.

Creating a clear juxtaposition between the kids of the transplant town and the hometown Texans isn’t a bad idea, but the new film comes across as a preacher in doing so.

Unfortunately, the end result is lame and unimaginative. He holds the viewers hand through all the social narratives he tries to push, and instead of succeeding in his attempts to be woken up, he feels the opposite. old and boring. And it certainly doesn’t require you to stay alive with the crew.

The film line is blurred

Olwen Fouere as Sally Hardesty in 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Olwen Fouere as Sally Hardesty in 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre. © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

The best scene in the film, and the only one worth remembering, is the scene where Leatherface boards a bus full of investors.

As he surrenders a chainsaw and is covered in blood, the crowd turns to face him. And – consistent with today – they all pull out their phones to get a video.

It ends with enough gore, guts, and gore to make any horror lover smile with glee – and admittedly gives some satisfaction that those suckers seeking social media attention in a crisis situation are getting what they deserve. But it also successfully possesses a quality that gets lost in every other aspect of the film: it was campy as hell.

I was on the floor dying of laughter when a guy leading the cheery crowd said, “Try anything, and you’re out, bro.” It’s in this golden moment that the film’s failed attempt to be progressive perhaps works in its favor: it brings us back to the classic, over-the-top horror genre that’s so “extra”, and we can laugh at his costs.

But one wonders if the creators of TCM did this intentionally and if the movie is actually self-aware. The film tries so hard to make us understand the problems of the main characters, driven by liberal-leaning sensibilities, that it comes across as biased and self-righteous. The bus scene is the one place where we felt like we were – maybe – allowed to laugh at the unhappy Gen Z crowd we’re supposed to “relate with”. The line is blurred, the intent of the filmmakers is confused, and viewers are stuck in between.

I wish this film had a clear tendency to take itself a lot less seriously. Of course, not all horror movies need to be like Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive or Edgar Wright’s Shawn of the Dead, but the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre surely would have benefited from a bit of a poke- same.

While the kills and thrills are there, Texas Chainsaw Massacre fails with its “woke” modern updates and brings nothing new to the horror table.

Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Press

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