Review: Netflix’s new ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ doesn’t live up to the promise of its first kill

Following in the footsteps of recent reboots “Halloween” and “Scream,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” attempts to revive a horror icon. Sally Hardesty might not boast as much cultural awareness as Laurie Strode or Sidney Prescott but she deserves respect as the original “final girl.” Unfortunately, this direct sequel to 1974’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” doesn’t give the scream queen, played here by Olwen Fouéré, the triumphant return she deserves.

It isn’t just Sally who gets short shrift: Director David Blue Garcia’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” feints at social commentary on school shootings, gentrification and racism. However, the approach is just as subtle as Leatherface (Mark Burnham) bashing someone’s head with a mallet — and not nearly as effective.

The enduring country-versus-city theme of the original remains, but this time, it’s not hippies who venture into rural territory with deadly results. Austin-based influencers and their friends (Sarah Yarkin, Jacob Latimore, Elsie Fisher and Nell Hudson) see opportunity in a Texas ghost town, but their arrival displaces a longtime resident (Alice Krige) and the hulking, disturbed man (guess who) in her care.

An inventive first kill sets a standard that the movie can’t match in the dozens of fatalities that follow. Leatherface’s relentless carnage is simultaneously too much and not enough, with each successive murder earning less of a reaction. More blood? Shrug. This cannot be a healthy way to feel, but “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” never evokes the fear that was the hallmark of the original and settles only for disgust at the volume of viscera. The 1974 film was a nightmare that felt too close to reality, but this is merely unpleasant — and not in a good way.

‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

Rating: R, for strong bloody horror violence and gore, and language. 

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: Available Feb. 18 on Netflix

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