UT Alumnus, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ director David Blue Garcia talks blood-splattered filmmaking process, cast members talk working with Leatherface

Noah Levine, Life and Arts Film Columnist

“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” sawed itself onto Netflix on Feb. 18. Serving as a direct sequel to the 1974 Tobe Hooper original, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” the 2022 version follows a group of teenage influencers as they encounter “Massacre’s” enduring villain — Leatherface. Directed by UT alumnus David Blue Garcia and shot by UT alumnus Ricardo Diaz, this terrifying installment of the Massacre franchise holds exciting roots in the radio-television-film program at UT. 

The Daily Texan attended a Clubhouse roundtable to speak with Garcia and cast members Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”), Sarah Yarkin (“Happy Death Day 2U”) and Nell Hudson (“Outlander”). 


The Daily Texan: David, as someone who went through UT Austin’s radio-television-film program, what were some valuable things you learned that helped your skillset on this film?

David Blue Garcia: Especially at UT, you get to try out anything you want — editing, cinematography, tak(ing) acting classes and study(ing) film history. It gave me a good all around knowledge of filmmaking and let me explore what I was passionate about. I took to the path of cinematography and fell in love with 16mm filmmaking. I pursued that outside of film school,  mainly working as a cinematographer until recently. Then, I made the jump to directing. The other takeaway from film school is I have lots of really good friends I met there and am still in contact with, (like) Scott Rice. He was a grad student while I was there. I remember he entered his grad student thesis project into a student film competition and just blew everyone away. I was like, “Who the hell is this guy?”


DT: How much input as director did you have in designing Leatherface’s iconic mask and the kill sequences? 

DBG: When I was hired onto the project, the mask was already made. Fede (Alvarez) started working on that … when they were still writing the screenplay. They were looking for something that wasn’t trying to be scary. If you really cut the skin off of somebody’s face, cut some holes around the ears, peeled it back and pinned it to your own ears, how would it fall? Imperfectly on your face, maybe the mouth is drooping. The main kills are described in the screenplay, but there’s a lot of room for a director to come in and invent more. That’s sort of the fun of this genre: to get creative. 


DT: As an actor, was it frightening to be in the same room as horror icon Leatherface? 

Elsie Fisher: It’s like watching a creepy video or a jump scare. You know it’s coming. You know exactly what you’re in for, but it’s still a little freakier to see in real life. Mark Burnham who played Leatherface, he’s a big dude! Tall people scare me.

Sarah Yarkin: You get desensitized to it. You’re on set with him every day, and you know who Mark is. There was a time that I didn’t know he was on set, and I turned and saw him. That was a horrifying moment. 

Nell Hudson: The first time you see Mark in the mask is scary because it’s the first time. … Like, “Woah, there he is!” But it doesn’t take long before you’re like, “Oh, there’s Mark!” You look over at Leatherface and he’s just like eating his lunch, going off for a coffee. It becomes normalized quite quickly. 


DT: Elsie, your previous performance in “Eighth Grade” also features moments where your character undergoes extreme anxiety and terror. What works best to get those emotions out of your performance?

EF: When I can’t take a 6 hour ice bath to get in the mood, music is really helpful. Depending on what the scene kind of calls for, I’ll find it helpful to either put on some more ambient tunes or depressing music. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get to listen to happy stuff and feel good!