Courtesy A24

Ti West, whose stock in trade is retro genre exercises, adds another notch in his IMDb page with this competently-made but utterly wrongheaded wallow in Texas Chainsaw land. In 1979, a crew of wannabe pornographers tricks a creepy old man into renting out a building on his ramshackle property to covertly shoot their debut entry into the nascent adult home-video market.

The Nowhere, Texas, setting and repeated shots of attractive young people calling into a decrepit old house through a screen door ensure that even the most casual horror fan won’t miss the reference to the film that spawned a million lousy remakes. But unlike Tobe Hooper’s masterpiece, which has a point to make about economic desperation and cultural clash in 70s America, West just wants to punish everyone involved in gory ways played for laughs.

Not every film has to have a message, but, unfortunately, this film has one. What triggers the bloodletting is the old man’s haggard wife spying on the film shoot and feeling jealous watching the beautiful young people go at it. She asks her husband to make love to her like he used to, but he begs off, citing his weak heart. Frustrated, the woman starts picking off the crew one by one. In the end, everyone except the requisite Final Girl is dead. West seems to think that old people wanting sex is at least as disgusting as pornographers. The only reason I could deduce for Final Girl’s survival is that, in a too-cute-by-a-mile final reveal, she turns out to be the wayward daughter of the Bible-thumper whose TV sermon serves as the Greek chorus to this grim dirge of worn-out tropes. I bet if West was honest with himself, he’d admit he had more in common with that moralizing TV preacher than anyone else in his movie. R, 105 min.

Wide release in theaters