Netflixable? A streaming service butchers a horror icon — “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”

How terrible is this thing? Where oh where does one begin?

Netflix’s brief and abortive “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” “requel” goes wrong before Leatherface loads up the saw with a fresh squirt of chain bar oil.

The earliest victims are dispatched without a whit of compassion or suspense. The later victims seem to be getting lectured, in between takes, about how they “don’t look scared enough.” Not that it does any good.

There’s no visceral thrill to this perfunctory and pandering “fan service” reboot/sequel/requel. And then the damned fool who scripted it decides that maybe the pitiless madman-murderer has a point, a legitimate grievance.

This being set in Texas, there’s a requisite sh–kicker (Moe Dunford) in a “blowing coal” pick-em-up truck. Is he to be the “good guy with a gun?”

They bring back a character, but not an actress who has ever played her before.

Honestly, I think that Geico ad that riffed on “Chainsaw” was more fun and more engrossing than David Blue Garcia’s turn behind the wheel.

The half-assed premise is that a bunch of young, affluent Austinites, led by a chef (Jacob Lattimore) have bought a bank-repossessed ghost town. They figure to colonize it with Austinites looking to escape from “the city” into the “real” Texas.

Have they not been following the news. Do they not know who and what is out there, from Confederate flagged fanatics to power-grid impossibilities? No matter. Dante (cute name) and his partner Melody (Sarah Yorkin), fiance Ruth (Nell Hudson) and Melody’s little sister Lila (Elsie Fisher) show up to find that area folks have been warned that they’re coming, and that their ghost town isn’t empty.

Mrs. McC (horror legend Alice Krige) is still living in the orphanage with the man-mountain she calls “Baby.” Evicting them is what sends “Baby” (Mark Burnham) on a murder spree.

Lila is facing this gathering, gory horror as a school shooting survivor, easily triggered. Melody is keen to look after her.

“I’m not gonna let him kill you, OK?” she lies.

I hate picking on actors and actresses, but Yorkin is singularly slow on the “A murderous nut is killing people right in front of me, I should look TERRIFIED” uptake. She kind of sets the tone, as others — not just the cell-phone recording “investors” — wholly underreact to seeing people beheaded and/or skinned in front of them.

The acting is bad, but the script is “Do you want fries with that?” awful, as that might be where we next encounter this hack Craig Thomas Devlin. Garcia’s direction makes “lackluster” seem aspirational.

.It’s as bloody as promised, with one memorable moment capturing mass slaughter in an arresting, shocking way. But like the rest of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” it fails to generate any connection with the victims, or pity.

So, I guess we’re just supposed to think the “smug, self-righteous rich city folk” had it coming?

I’d suggest re-watching the commercial, ponder why the fleeing young people don’t pile into the waiting Mini Cooper rather than hiding in a barn filled with chainsaws.

Beware of the insurance, though. Geico is better at commercials than fair pricing or yeoman’s customer service.

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

Cast: Sarah Yorkin, Elsie Fisher, Mark Burnham, Jacob Lattimore, Moe Dunford and Alice Krige.

Credits: Directed by David Blue Garcia, scripted by Craig Thomas Devlin. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:24

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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