WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, now available to stream on Netflix.
One of the major elements in the marketing leading up to the premiere of the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre film is the resurgent feud between Leatherface and Sally Hardesty. The sole survivor of the infamous 1973 killing spree depicted in the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Sally lost her friends and brother Franklin to the Sawyer family in that harrowing encounter nearly 50 years ago. And while trailers for the revival film suggested Sally and Leatherface’s rematch would serve as the centerpiece to the 2022 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the revenge angle is not as prominent as audiences are led to believe and ultimately falls flat on its face in the final execution of the story.
Eschewing the long line of middling sequels that followed the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which saw Sally institutionalized for the long-term effects of the intense trauma she endured at the hands of Leatherface and the Sawyer family, the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre only maintains continuity with the 1974 film. Last seen barely escaping Leatherface with her life, Sally has since become a hardened ranger who drops everything she’s doing when she learns that her old tormentor has resurfaced and resumed killing. Arming herself, Sally returns to Leatherface’s hometown of Harlow, Texas for a blood-soaked showdown where only one will leave this encounter alive.
Or at least, that’s the underlying intention behind Sally’s inclusion in the story. Sally, herself, doesn’t play a particularly major role in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre until late into the film, often arriving hours too late at a given location to prevent Leatherface from claiming a fresh set of victims. When Sally does finally confront Leatherface, holding him at gunpoint, she demands to know if he recalls ruining her life by butchering her friends and family, only to allow the masked killer to walk away. This quickly comes back to haunt her, as Sally is ambushed and killed by Leatherface soon thereafter, ending this feud permanently.
Sally’s inclusion feels like a tacked-on element of the story, perhaps to capitalize on the success of the recent line of Halloween revival films, which similarly brought back original survivor Laurie Strode for a rematch against The Shape. Sally’s role essentially reminds audiences of what occurred in the original movie, building some semblance of continuity before showing Sally as ultimately ineffective and easily killed, much like any number of the victims that Leatherface slices and dices his way through with bloody aplomb. There is a passing of the torch moment between Sally and new survivor Lila, but this scene is delivered too late and without the emotional weight that the story was looking for.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre hyped up a major return for Sally, adhering perhaps too close to the Halloween revival mold, but the character’s inclusion feels like a missed opportunity. Sally is largely inconsequential, a blast from the past that doesn’t pack much of a punch in the proceedings and, for a woman who has been dreaming at a chance for payback for decades, comes up woefully short. It seems the story doesn’t quite know what to do with its returning survivor, and, as a result, it does the fan-favorite character a disservice.
To see Sally Hardesty’s disappointing return, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is available to stream now on Netflix.
KEEP READING: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 Supports a Dark Theory About Leatherface’s Family