The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most consistent franchises in the horror game. Only with the exception of Leatherface (2017), I have enjoyed all of these films on some level. I tend to go back and revisit them often as each one stands out on it’s own and yet still fits with the series so well. I was excited when Netflix announced another installment for 2022 and I was not disappointed.
This movie is a present-day direct sequel to the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, following the trend that we’ve seen recently with Ghostbusters and Halloween. This approach has worked well for these films as we are met with new stories and fresh faces. The opening scene takes place at a gas station in rural Texas, which reminds me of the one in The Hills Have Eyes, where we are introduced to a group of influencers from Austin who are traveling to the town of Harlow with a vision of revitalization and gentrification. These well-intended individuals have arranged for a party-bus load of investors to come to downtown Harlow to ink a deal and have a good time. One of the driving forces behind this idea is Chef Dante who exclaims, “behold the joys of late-stage capitalism” as he lays eyes on the property. When the group arrives in Harlow they are greeted by Richter, a local coal-rolling, gun-toting contractor that they have hired by phone to renovate the town square. Richter asks if they are a cult when Dante’s girlfriend Ruth explains that they are “idealistic individuals who want to build a better world.” Richter notes, “Yeah, that’s a cult but I ain’t judging. Just pay me and we’re good.” This interaction barely sinks in before they spot a confederate flag hanging from one of the buildings. Dante and his business partner Melody make haste to make that flag disappear before an investor lays eyes on it. This leads to the discovery that an old woman and her son are living in the building. Dante calls the police to have them removed from the property which sets off a chain of events that fall in line with the type of on-brand horror that the films are known for.
Movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre were never known for being preachy or having a deep message but they do stand as illustrations of the times in which they took place. In 1974 kids in Texas smoked pot and went to Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts. In 2022 they go to college and start businesses. Melody, a hip young entrepreneur played by Sarah Larkin, was the perfect face for the revitalization of Harlow. Melody’s sister, Lila was along for the ride but served the role of an outsider as she was not about this ambitious undertaking. Melody is a person who clearly wants to do what’s right above all but is being pulled in one direction by Dante and another by Lila. None of the characters in this film have ill intentions except for Leatherface. Even the contractor is empathetic despite the fact that he is a real asshole. This 2022 installment is truly a dark comedy, like its predecessor, set in a modern world.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre has all of the elements of a great slasher flick. The gore was not overdone but executed excellently. The killings were awesome and over the top and felt exciting as Leatherface was not having these city folks move to his town. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as the dialogue was smart and hilarious. There’s even an element of action horror as Olwen Fouere plays an American Ninja Sheriff whose only goal in life is to take down Leatherface. This stands out in the franchise, along with Squid Games, are the type of pictures that Netflix needs to elevate its horror catalog. I can only hope for a trilogy of these movies so I can throw away my copy of the 2017 Leatherface and have an even 10 sitting on my shelf.
About Nathan Conrad:
He’s best known as the Nashville-based Hip Hop/Indie Pop emcee Spoken Nerd, but this isn’t your typical rap project. He rhymes playfully at times, singing and/or rapping, juxtaposing his style with real-life situations and subject matter. Occasionally Spoken Nerd will find inspiration in films and will put it into song. With eight full-length albums into his career, the rapper has built a healthy catalog of music, which doesn’t include the number of EPs and singles released.