This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Matisse van Rossum’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I thought this film was excellent. Going into it, the only Texas Chainsaw film I'd seen was the shitty 3D reboot from 2012. After seeing the original by Tobe Hooper, I now know why it is such a critically acclaimed film, and why the franchise exploded the way it did. It's gritty, atmospheric, and pretty legitimately creepy.
I think what I enjoyed the most was overall look of the film. It was shot on 16 mm reversal film, which needs 4x the light for proper exposure, and this makes the film really grainy, which I loved. The opening shot is really quite disturbing and it sets up the whole tone for the rest of the story. In addition, the set design is incredible, especially what I guess you would call the "bone room." While the scene in which one of the characters discovers this room goes on a little long, I thought it totally worked for the film. The more than numerous cuts showing practically every inch of this room in gruesome detail really contribute to your understanding of the pure evil and insanity of the family. What I particularly enjoyed was the fact that the set left nothing to the imagination, but the violence itself was left almost completely to the imagination. There is no unnecessary gore, unlike in the 2012 "counterpart" (if you can even call it that). This leaves the viewer's mind to fill in the gaps, which can often be even more terrifying.
The pacing was a little strange I thought, with a relatively slow start followed by the rapid killing of all but one of the hapless victims within about a 15 minute span. Although, I think this ultimately worked because it allowed us to focus on Sally's individual torment and terror for the remainder of the film which is much more emotionally taxing.
I found the acting mediocre at its worst and little more than decent at its best, but I think this did little to hurt the film because of how atmospheric it is, which makes it easy to get sucked into the story. There are parts where the acting is just downright campy, but this provided some much needed comic relief. However, because of the difficult working conditions on set, there are moments which seem much more genuine because the actors were under actual duress, and these moments are very effective
Overall, I think this is a very successful film. It provides us a story of true horror, relatively close to home, and shows a very twisted take on familial archetypes and standards. Because of how familiar the concept of family is to most people, this makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre even more terrifying.