'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Review: Leatherface Isn't Ready To Hang Up His Weapon Of Choice
Now everyone, if you may, please take out your hidden chainsaws that are inside your walls and follow me to Harlow, Texas. As with everything influential, in every few-or-so years someone will dig up the bones to ''reimagine'' the original concept and today that happens to be Texas Chainsaw Massacre, another sequel to the 1974 movie which ghosts other sequels and reboots. In the film eventually directed by David Blue Garcia after creative changes, the aforementioned small town is about to be gentrified by arriving zoomers and millennials, including two sisters in Melody (Sarah Yarkin) and Lila (Elsie Fisher) and their pal Dante (Jacob Latimore). It just so happens that one of the supposedly dispossessed houses is still occupied by Leatherface (Mark Burnham), now about 40 years older. These new residents awaken his murderous desires, also prompting a previous survivor to seek revenge on him.
Something that this new version takes from the old one is short and sweet length of around 80 minutes, which very much supports the amount of camp in the beginning when it feels like filmmakers are having a bit of fun. Pacing of it all feels natural as the story is escalating rather than just settling with adrenaline spikes every 10 minutes like horror sequels tend to do, even the first massacre at a cornfield has genuine tension because there's no rush. A nice addition to that is also the visual quality, mainly the vibrant colour grading which enhances the better moments when DoP Ricardo Diaz is capturing all the practical special effects and makeup work.
Those things also help to patch the holes that production design and set decoration (supervised by Michael Perry, Asen Bozilov and Joey Ostrander) have until about 35 minutes in when a combination of terrible tonal shift, nighttime lighting and awful VFX (try not to pay attention to lightning) becomes too overwhelming to ignore. From that point on, you just feel upset because you're just thinking about this Bulgarian backlot set that feels sadly hollow, taking you out of what is supposed to be a visceral horror experience. That feeling also then finds its way to influence other aspects, like Chris Thomas Devlin's script that turns fatality into unnecessary twists; it's also not helped by Garcia's wavering direction which lets Yarkin and Fisher's performances slip away from his reach.
Unoriginal approach becomes a problem as well when it creates weaker versions of key scenes in other horror reboots and original films, much because there are no intelligent, original choices in the second half to balance them out.
Smileys: Pacing, colouring
Frowneys: Production design, originality, screenplay
The old lady? They really didn't leather live the rest of her days peacefully.