The new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, serving as a sequel to Tobe Hooper's 1974 slasher, has two mildly serviceable moments. One of them has a girl trapped inside a police vehicle, while another finds a girl carefully jumping down to the stairs below, only to be greeted by the killer standing at the top. These two scenes are not as terrifying as they must have sounded on the paper, but they are the only ones that at least faintly work in this feeble, forgettable slasher.
Consider the scenes where Mel (Sarah Yarkin) is hiding from Leatherface (Mark Burnham), the masked killer who wields a chainsaw. First, she quivers inside the wardrobe and then below the bed. Whenever she is in close proximity to Leatherface, the tension should ideally rise up. But those instances are flat and devoid of nervousness. Again, the situation might have seemed gripping during the writing process, but it falters in execution. The main problem with Texas Chainsaw Massacre is that it throws a bunch of dimwits into dangerous scenarios and expects us to shake in fear. Catherine (Jessica Allain) doesn't warn others about a psychopath lurking in the area after coming across the body of Dante (Jacob Latimore). Sally (Olwen Fouéré) points her gun close to Leatherface but does not fire. Mel decides to drive the car towards the masked killer instead of, you know, driving away from him to save herself and her sister. The characters have flesh to offer Leatherface but no brain to escape from his clutches even when the opportunity presents itself.
Director David Blue Garcia and writer Chris Thomas Devlin clumsily touch on societal issues and emerge with unsuccessful results. The movie attempts to talk about gun violence through Lila (Elsie Fisher), a school shooting survivor. The first brief glimpse of her past comes when she holds a gun into her hands. One can see why the filmmakers decided to insert the school shooting memory here, as, in this scene, we see how easily Lila gets to hold a firearm. The movie conveys that this easy possession of a weapon by a minor is the main reason behind the shootings at schools. However, this message is not clearly polished and expressed for impact. It merely remains a decoration, a futile effort to lend Lila more dimensions. When Leatherface enters a bus full of people, they take out their phones and show him live on social media. Here, the movie might be saying that we have gotten so addicted to the online world that our senses have become numbed and stopped detecting real-life dangers. But this scene is superficial at best and is followed by an act of savagery that registers strongly as unintentional comedy.
The weather changes from sunny to rainy to mark the arrival of a perilous event. A man stands in front of a light, appearing like a silhouette, to present himself as a menacing figure. But these visual choices just remain dressing for a dull production. You recognise their purpose, but they don't hit you with their intended effect. Thus, they fail to fulfil their function.
There are moments when Leatherface cries in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie tries to bring forth the human behind the "face mask." Though by the end, he, like Michael Myers in Halloween Kills, becomes a superhuman immune to bodily assaults. What else can explain his return after being wounded by multiple bullets and his own chainsaw? He brandishes the chainsaw, and the post-credit scene warns us of his return. Now, that's one moment that truly strikes fear in your heart. After sitting through this bore, who wants another Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Not me, for sure. But that won't stop the studios from manufacturing more soulless sequels or reboots or whatever. We can only hope the next movie won't be as soporific as this one. Fingers crossed.