In David Blue Garcia’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), old man Leatherface (played by Lowlife’s Mark Burnham) squares off against a group of gentrifying Gen Zers who set out to rejuvenate a dying small town in Texas, not realizing their idealistic plans are about to be thwarted by a gruesome generational clash that results in a ton of chainsaw-related carnage and endless bloodshed. But before Texas’ most notorious face-wearing cannibal sets these twentysomethings straight, a blast from his past in the form of Sally Hardesty (Olwen Fouéré, who many fans will remember from her work in Mandy) arrives for a showdown nearly five decades in the making.

When it comes to the Texas Chainsaw movies, this is a franchise where I generally keep my expectations pretty low, as I’m not nearly as emotionally connected to this series the way I am with others. So generally, when it comes to the “worst” TCM movie (looking at you, TCM: The Beginning), I’m still always entertained to some degree because I’m just looking to go on a wild ride, and for the most part, these movies always deliver just that. So, keeping that in mind, I went into Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) with an open mind, and I must admit that Garcia pleasantly surprised me with his efforts on this newest TCM installment. Of course, it never hits the same heights as Tobe Hooper’s one-two punch of the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre and TCM 2, but I never expected it to because there’s no way to replicate that kind of macabre magic. But for what this new Texas Chainsaw sets out to do, it achieves those goals more often than not.

In Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), screenwriter Chris Thomas Devlin (with a story assist from Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues) takes the requel approach (as explained in this year’s Scream) by recontextualizing Leatherface’s story after the original film and then reintroducing Sally Hardesty into the fray as well. And for me, the old man Leatherface storyline worked far better than any of the Sally Hardesty stuff, even though Fouéré is great here, just because of the way things play out. When they bring Sally back into the mix here, it ends up feeling unnecessary because of how her character is treated in the story and the fact that it can’t really match up to just how compelling Leatherface’s story ends up being. I don’t want to give too much away, but how the iconic chainsaw-wielding madman is presented here ended up being extremely fascinating to me, and I think Burnham does a really great job of building upon the foundation for Leatherface that Gunnar Hansen first established back in 1974. 

Again, I don’t want to say too much, but what I will say is that I was genuinely surprised by this iteration of Leatherface and I enjoyed how truly scary but also empathetic the character was at times. But the reemergence of Sally Hardesty in this newest Texas Chainsaw is truly a waste, which is the biggest sin committed by the “requel.”

Which brings me to the not nearly as successful parts of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022): all the Gen Z folks. The cast is led by Sarah Yarkin and Elsie Fisher, who play sisters Melody and Lila, respectively, and while I’ve enjoyed Fisher’s work in other projects, Yarkin ends up giving more of a standout performance here, as Garcia really puts her character through the wringer. In terms of the rest of the cast, other than the legendary Alice Krige, who plays an integral figure in Leatherface’s life, no one else really left much of an impression on me. And because of that, Leatherface himself ends up being the most relatable (and possibly even likable) character in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022), which isn’t really the way it should be. But I really did appreciate the touch of having John Larroquette returning to the franchise once again to give us some of his iconic narration, so that was cool.

But in terms of the visual aesthetics of this new Texas Chainsaw, I think that Ricardo Diaz’s cinematography adds a lot to the project, as he captures some gorgeous and often grotesque imagery through his lens that is just absolutely stunning. One sequence that ended up being a huge highlight for me was the “Party Bus Massacre” as I like to call it, just because it was totally bananas and over the top, but visually, it looked like nothing we’ve ever seen in a Texas Chainsaw movie, either, and I just thought it was a great way for this latest film to stand out a bit from the pack. Also, I know the image of Leatherface sitting in the dead sunflower field has become instantaneously meme-worthy now, but within the context of the story in Texas Chainsaw (2022), it ends up being an unusually poignant moment that we don’t often get from these films, and I really dug that, too.

As a whole, there are a few missteps in this new Texas Chainsaw movie that may end up mattering more to the diehard fans of this franchise than they did to me, which is why I ended up having a great deal of fun with it. Do I wish they had done away with certain “requel” elements of the story in favor of trying to do something that didn’t feel like it was trying so hard to be Halloween (2018)? Most definitely. But because all of the Leatherface aspects of this story ended up being so engaging, that’s what won me over in the end, and I do hope we get a follow-up effort to this film eventually (there is a post-credit scene, so for those of you who are into those types of things, you’ll definitely want to stick around through the credits).

Movie Score: 3/5  

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.