“No, it’s a guy with a chainsaw.”
This movie is something, alright (alright, alright), and that’s more than I expected given its status as one of the lowest rated horror sequels of the 90s, an almost impressively moribund category to rank so high (or low?) in.
After successfully introducing us to some All-Time Unlikable Kids About to Be Killed, most of the runtime is spent feeling bad for Renee Zellweger and being frustrated by her inability to learn not to get into cars driven by strangers. With the added perspective that comes from the fact that she went on to have a wildly successful career, it’s as if this was the price she had to pay for her stardom.
On the other side, there’s this idea that Matthew McConaughey leveled up or evolved during his McConaissance, but after watching this, I believe it’s WE who changed for him, not the other way around. Matthew’s been throwing fastballs and catching greenlights since Day 1 onscreen and it’s never not entertaining. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Matthew McConaughey got his role in Wolf of Wall Street by sending this tape to Marty. That is absolutely the manic energy McConaughey brings to Vilmer, who has a mechanical leg (remote included) for some reason. This allows for a glorious climactic battle over his leg’s remote control between Matthew and Renee that could absolutely be the subtext for every rom-com either of them subsequently starred in.
Hooper’s original showcases the horror of small-town poverty, of industrialization. His sequel showcases the horror of amusement park commercialization, the commodification of cannibalism — we’re eating that Best in Show barbecue and loving its secret sauce– and had to use comedy to help us swallow that message. What Kim Henkel’s film (kind of) does is an amalgamation of the two, put on a platter for another generation: the horror of this insane family of cannibals isn’t restricted to the home Renee and her shitty friends stumble upon. Whenever we/they think they escape, whenever we/they think they’ve found an ally, we realize that family is a bit larger and more powerful and connected than we could have ever imagined.