TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE  (REVIEW)
Dir. David Blue Garcia
Review. Martyn Wakefield
At it's best, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is the goriest film you'll see this year. At it's worst, its a parody of a franchise that is so beloved by the world of cinema. Writing credits go to Fede Alvarez who gave us the blood soaked EVIL DEAD remake and the echoes of that film vibrate through the walls of this film but like any good ripple, it hasn't quite got the same level of impact that the 2012 film gave us and as such, despite bringing even more blood and broken bones here, the impact is far less shocking.
The continuity of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is pitched, like HALLOWEEN, as a live follow up to the events of the 1974 classic avoiding any of the 7 entries in between. Bringing back the final girl Sally Hardesty (played here by Olwen Fouéré due to the unfortunate passing of Marilyn Burns in 2014) it's easy to see this as a cheap cash-in off the success of the David Gordon Green reboot but this doesn't have the depth or continuity to meet that. Picking up in the town of Harlow, Leatherface lives with the "mother" of an Orphanage. No Sawyer family in sight, and yet the Leatherface is worlds apart from the one we left in 1974. This one is sane, driven by motive and only targets his victims directly taking out anyone who directly gets in his way. This version of events feels like a reboot (alas 2003) with the gore far more prevalent than any of its predecessors but at times becomes a parody (especially in its closing seconds) as it mirrors events and moments so iconic from the original. Plus there are at least two moments that hark back to JAWS but I'm not sure how intentional that was.
A group of millennials buyout a small town reduced to ruin in the hope of creating a hopeful community for investors. Upon arrival they find one resident will not leave but on removing her, it soon becomes evident that what she was harbouring in the house were the stains of the tragic massacre of '74. From that point on, the return of Leatherface hellbent on revenge sees him pick off the millennial cast until the final moments.
The opening massacre is violent, nasty and difficult to watch, setting the tone and reeling the audience in. Many will be rubbing their hands together as Leatherface regains his mask and takes charge. Director David Blue Garcia manages to create his own world while also shares the pallet of Hooper's original in such a way that it doesn't feel too far away as the likes of THE NEXT GENERATION and LEATHERFACE did.
Unfortunately for Leatherface's victims, there is not an ounce of sympathy for any of them and through no fault of the cast either. The film and screenplay was evidentially written with a tinge of snideness toward millennial culture and lack of understanding of modern audiences, as such creating a bitter viewpoint of the collective and alienating the viewer from any connective concern. As such, once the massacre begins, there's no sense of tension because the inevitable is welcome. It always seems like an easy pot-shot to poke at millennial and generations below culture because it's alien however it's also an evolution and film as well as other media needs to accept that and help create an acceptance and allegiance as opposed to alienation and aggression.
What's worse, is that the return of Sally is so bittersweet and unoriginal that it comes across as a gimmick as opposed to a central plot point and any real purpose for bringing the character back is short lived to the point where it amounts to nothing.
However, despite the lack of character, the lack of knowing and basic ignorance of anything that came before. This addition to the franchise is best left as a standalone and if taken for it's own credits then this is a return to OTT gore and violence the genre has been ansent of for some time now. In a time when psychological horror and real world analogies are the main sellers, it's somewhat refreshing to just sit back and watch through fingers as a mans arm is snapped and then persistently use the protruding bone to stab a guy to death.
Taking into account the film has its worth and merit for an effective horror film on its own end, the truth of where this sits in such an iconic franchise cannot be ignored and as such, it can only be summed up by a what it is... a bloodbath. A violent, claret coated chainsaw massacre that leaves a mess of plot that won't be mopped up anytime soon.