Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation | Chicago Reader

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Less crowd pleasing than the obvious Scream (1996), this horror-series entry (produced in 1994) is an equally futile attempt to take reflexivity to a new level in a genre defused by the compulsive self-referencing that first defined it. The boring and shockingly ungory story—written by director Kim Henkel, who also wrote The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)—follows four prom refugees whose car crashes on an isolated stretch of road near the house where a group of murderers live. Henkel's exploitation of conventions he helped originate is nicely textured in spots. The other characters say things about the plain girl (Renee Zellweger) that affirm and question this archetype, and the spiel of the glamorous girl (Lisa Newmyer)—she says she's afraid of murderers lurking in the woods the way they do in scary movies—gives way to a confession that she's just trying to get attention; such self-awareness is rare in a secondary character whose role is to be tortured and killed. But head psycho Matthew McConaughey flattens everything out—he's neither caustic nor cliched enough to command attention, and the conspiracy subplot that's meant to broaden the context of his behavior doesn't. R, 90 min.

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