The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 ★★★½

Wickedly clever and brutal, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" is less a direct continuation of Tobe Hooper's landmark original film then it is a redressing and expansion of the characters and mythology from this film's violent predecessor. Here, Hooper returns and builds a film that revels in the excess of its new decade, winks at its location and genre, and lands as an almost entirely satisfying reworking of a certain murderous family.

Beginning with an onscreen synopsis of the 1974 original, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2" launches into the 1980s and a state trying hard to disavow chainsaw murders, copycat or otherwise. A former Texas Ranger, however, digs a a little too deeply into a new set of murders and unleashes Texas-sized chaos on a local disc jockey.

In one swing of its saw blade, the narrative splatters semi-satirical commentary about the state of the horror genre and the out-sized nature of its setting. All of this roils under an over-the-top cat and mouse thriller where the cat wears a mask made of human skin.

That over-the-top nature applies to the film as a whole with Hooper stirring together a pungently grotesque chili of macabre imagery, violence, and borderline comedy all intended to pummel its audience and protagonists into submission. A juxtaposition of light and dark, claustrophobia and airy agora, and intimacy and terror adds an impressively heady dimension to the work.

"The Chainsaw Massacre 2" surprises with its wit and stalks with its noise and violence. It is a relentless sequel whose tone reflects its era and whose jolts reflect its ability to horrify.

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