The last of the Texas Chainsaw movies came out this year and I am blessedly free from the franchise after this one final review. This sequel reboots the rebooted reboot timeline and is another direct sequel to the original movie, though the director apparently says it doesn’t undo any of the original timeline sequels. That, of course, is horseshit but whatever. If there’s one thing I’ve learned reviewing these films, it’s that continuity is a foreign concept to this franchise. The film got a lot of shit for being “woke” and also conservative because people like to be angry at things. Though the line in the trailer of someone saying he would “cancel” Leatherface if he tried anything explains a lot of the vitriol this got when it came out.
The movie takes place in the modern day of 2022 and the myth of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a tourist thing now. The four sexy young adults that are our main focus for this film are heading into a Texas ghost town named Harlow. Dante and Melody plan to open a restaurant as well as sell off a bunch of other buildings to investors in order to “revitalize” the town. Melody’s sister, Lila, is along for the ride and we find out is a school shooting survivor which feels in poor taste but whatever. Also Dante’s partner is there. Her name is apparently Ruth and she doesn’t matter. When they go to kick out the final remaining local, an old woman that ran an orphanage, they give her a heart attack and her very large, very Leatherface son is displeased with this turn of events. Hopefully he can find a constructive way to deal with that anger.
There are some good things and some bad things about this film but I think overall the good outweighs the bad. On the good side of things, the actresses for the sisters do an incredible job of taking what could have been a very stereotypical “entitled millennials” thing and making them feel like real characters. Melody ends up feeling genuine remorse and is fucked up when she hears the old lady died of the heart attack. Also good in this are the practical effects that they used for everything. There are some seriously gnarly looking kills and this film features the first of what I would consider an actual massacre in the franchise when Leatherface murders an entire busload of investors. They also thankfully do the school shooting aspect of Lila’s character very well such that even though it feels like it might not be the best choice, it doesn’t feel exploitive or they did it for shock value.
On the bad end, we have the fact that the people that made this had recently seen the new Halloween rebooted timeline and went “we should also do that”. Original final girl Sally Hardesty returns as a now gun-toting badass that wants to hunt down a 70 something year old Leatherface in a B-plot that is literally just Halloween. The problem with that, in addition to being nowhere near as earned as Laurie Strode in that series, is that they end up turning Leatherface into Michael Myers. The things that make Leatherface interesting and unique are all gone here. Gone are the family that goads the childlike killer to violence. Gone too is the childlike demeanor and intense emotional instability that made him stand out. Normally slashers fall into one of two camps. You have your implacable, emotionless stalkers like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Then you have your campy, pun spewing jokesters like Freddy Krueger or Chucky. Leatherface was this uniquely positioned horror icon and the film turned him into a generic knockoff of a different franchise.
The movie manages to strike a good balance in tone between the chucklefuckery of Part 2 and the dour seriousness of the first reboot. It’s fun to watch and I think they did a much better job than the trailer might make you think. I just wish they didn’t do my screamy manchild so dirty in this one.
Score: 3 out of 5