Legacy Sequels have been in vogue recently; offering audiences an ingenious method to watch nostalgic movies, but not so, bringing new and old characters together to retell a well-regarded tale and pass the baton and the money-making opportunities down the line. Leatherface is no exception as in 2022, the 1974 classic was expanded upon, disregarding the tangled continuity with its version of events. Addressing new issues, with some familiar faces (no pun intended) in Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
After the events of the original shook the nation, the fate of Leatherface remains unsolved, Sally has devoted her life to Law Enforcement in the efforts to track Leatherface down. Almost 50 years on, Dante, Melody, and her sister Lila are looking to move out to Harlow, Texas; a practical ghost town with the dream of revitalising it, and seeking hip clientèle to invest in their vision. When it turns out their starting property (an orphanage) is technically still occupied, Intervention from the law enforcement forces old Ginny out on the street, evoking the ire of Leatherface. Now Melody and Lila must deal with the dark secrets that make up the foundations of Harlow, and both might rely on some old hands to face off against some other old, threatening foes.
As is the golden rule of a slasher, you create characters that you don’t like and watch them getting slaughtered. In these divided times, both sides of the political spectrum get their representation. The victims are emblematic of a lot of the controversial talking points that the other side will gleefully condemn. Gun-phobic gentrifiers who aren’t more than two inches from their phones come face to face with rural gun-toting good ol’ boys who act patronising to anybody from out-of-town. Much like the original, social issues do bubble up a lot in the dialogue, as these caricatures butt head. “Feral Hogs” is almost quoted verbatim. As most of this boils away once the titular massacre begins, it is mainly window dressing for the slasher action. Although the reasons why Lila is anxious around guns are also revealed, making her sacrifices to overcome Leatherface all the more poignant.
The touchy issue of politics aside, the core slasher elements of this legacy sequel are still a lot of fun. As is the return of Sally, who in this version has worked to take matters into her own hands and seek vengeance for the decades of terror Leatherface has inflicted. Like a lot of Legacy sequels, we get a supposed last hurrah from the old guard before the new heroine takes the mantle, since Marilyn Burns, unfortunately, passed away in 2014, Olwen Fouéré, steps in as Sally. Speaking of stepping in, Melody and Lila are a good pair of shoulders to burden the unstoppable onslaught of Leatherface. By the end, they will have more than a personal grudge against the sole member of the Sawyer clan, if Netflix decides upon making more films.
In an era more engrossed in the grizzly details of true crime, gruesome spectacles, and the ever-growing injustice, Texas Chainsaw makes just enough of an adjustment to fit in with its contemporaries, as newer audiences rediscover these decades-old classics. Yes, the characters wear their politics on their sleeves, but that is set-dressing as the body count starts to rise. Thankfully, Leatherface is only too willing to oblige with the rampant blood and looming threat for the foreseeable future. The new generation, once again, will learn to fear the sharp end of Leatherface’s chainsaw.
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