TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
*** (out of 5)
January 4, 2013
Alexandra Daddario as HEATHER MILLER
Dan Yeager as LEATHERFACE
Trey Songz as RYAN
Scott Eastwood as CARL
Tania Raymonde as NIKKI
Shaun Sipos as DARRYL
Keram Malicki-Sanchez as KENNY
Directed by: John Luessenhop
BY KEVIN CARR
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Over the years, it’s become increasingly harder to evaluate any film in the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” series. This is because of all franchises, it’s the only one in which the first film is so superior to everything that has come after it that it almost doesn’t belong in the same group.
Sure, a lot of franchises – particularly horror franchises – suffer from dry rot by the time they get to the fourth or fifth movie, but the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” films are almost across the board so terrible that they all play like that crappy sequel that never gets redeemed in part three.
Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece is so visceral and gritty, so unflinchingly terrifying that it has never been topped. The sequels and remakes that followed varied from the almost scene-by-scene reshoot (like “Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III,” which is probably the best one of all the sequels) to the batshit crazy fever dream of madness (like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation).
This new film “Texas Chainsaw 3D” ignores everything that came after the first film and tells a continuation of the original. After the first massacre, a posse kills Leatherface’s family by setting their house on fire. They also kidnap his now-orphaned infant cousin, and one of the townspeople raises her as their own. Flash-forward to present day (or sort-of present day… more on that later), and the baby is now a buxom young hottie named Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who is tracked down by the family’s lawyer to let her know she has inherited the family home.
Heather and her friends head out to Texas to look at the property. On the way, they pick up a hitchhiker (a not-so-subtle nod to the original film) and accidentally unleash Leatherface from the fortified basement. Leatherface goes on his expected massacre, unaware that his own kin is one of the targets.
Like “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Texas Chainsaw 3D” doesn’t make any goddamn sense if you actually think about the various plot points. For example, the film clearly takes place in present day, featuring modern rap music, current car models, paragraph chest tattoos and various modern technology. However, they never explain why Heather looks to be in her early 20s, even though she would have been born in 1974.
But never mind that nonsense. These films are not about logic or any connection to reality. It’s a slasher film, and a “Texas Chainsaw” movie at that, so it gets major points for just being able to tell a coherent story.
The film starts out as a typical “Texas Chainsaw” sequel, with a dumb group of kids stumbling across a murder house, waiting in line for blood – and fingers and legs and other body parts – to be spilled. While frustrating and rather stupid at times, the movie manages to go through these motions fine.
Things don’t take a turn for the better until about half-way through when the there seem to be some pretty irreverent inside jokes for horror movie fans. For example, Heather falls down stairs and trips over a two-foot fence while the mentally deficient, lumbering maniac in a vision-impairing mask of human skin runs through all of this effortlessly. Also, we see Leatherface practically outrun (or more appropriately, outstumble) a van that probably was rolling at about 35 miles an hour.
These scenes are not played to be cheeky, but rather in the context of the film. Could they be just poor directing and writing? Sure, but I like to give the film the benefit of the doubt, figuring they were intentionally fun moments for fans of the slasher genre.
After all of this, there’s an entire second half of the movie that brings Leatherface off the homestead and into a bigger world. It’s a risk, considering he doesn’t quite blend into the background of the town, but it pays off. Plus, the ultimate mission of the story while nihilistic in nature offers a level of intimacy and character to the otherwise unrelateable maniac.
Make no mistake: “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is a terrible movie, but it delivers better than any other follow up to the original film. It’s possibly the most violent of the series, so gorehounds will love it. And the 3D offers at least three or four chainsaws in the audience’s face. It’s not a good movie by any stretch, but I have to admit I had a hell of a lot of fun watching it.