Texas Chainsaw 3D Review
Posted by Joseph Lee on 01.12.2013
I don't care what Hollywood says, there should be a "Massacre" in the title.
*Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller
*Trey Songz as Ryan
*Dan Yeager as Leatherface
*Scott Eastwood as Deputy Carl
*Bill Moseley as Drayton Sawyer
Story: A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.
Trivia: Originally, a plan for a new trilogy was pitched. The films would be released out of chronological order, with the second film coming out first and being set almost entirely in a hospital. The next film would be a prequel explaining the events that led up to the hospital scenario. The third film would complete the storyline. Fearing it was too ambitious and risky, the producers opted for a follow up to the original instead.
Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the best horror films ever made. Unfortunately, the Texas Chainsaw franchise that followed has produced bad film after bad film. Everyone has a sequel (or in some cases the remake) that they prefer, but most can agree that none of them come close to the original film. So for a film to come along and say, "Forget the rest, this the true sequel to that movie" takes guts. It's not the first time a horror franchise has done this, as Halloween: H20 ignored everything but the first (and possibly second) film. It's actually a great way for a series to ignore what is usually a bad remake and continue from there.
After condensing the original film down to three minutes for the opening credits, this picks up exactly where that left off by showing what would happen if a family of cannibals massacred a group of young people: people would want revenge. Since it's a small town, the Sawyer house is burned to the ground and only a baby and Leatherface survive. The baby grows up to be Heather (Daddario), who journeys to Texas when she learns her grandmother has died and she has inherited everything.
What follows is pretty standard slasher fare. Someone hears a noise, that someone investigates and is picked off. One by one they all die until there is one or two left. You've seen one slasher you've seen them all. It actually breezes by this part of the film (which is where it's at its best) fairly quickly after only one or two stalk sequences and some nasty gore. This movie isn't really about a group of young adults encountering Leatherface and fighting for their lives.
It's the aftermath of the killing that is where this film started to lose me. It's certainly admirable for the film to take the story in a completely different direction and change the status quo a bit. After all, there's only so many times you can watch a group of people head to the same area of Texas only to get butchered one by one. In that respect, all Texas Chainsaw films have been remakes of the first with varying quality. It's not changing up the story that's the problem here.
I should say that if you do not want anything spoiled, you should skip the next two paragraphs. I'll try my best not to give away specific scenes but it's hard to talk about why this movie fails without bringing up this plot point. The problem is how stupid (or morally ambiguous) all of the surviving characters have to be for it to happen. The movie attempts to make Leatherface a sympathetic character. It would be a spoiler to say how or why, but the very fact that the audience is suddenly meant to root for this character flies in the face of the very film the creators so lovingly paid homage to in the first part of the film. Leatherface is meant to be scary. The Sawyer family is meant to be scary. They kill and eat people. There's no getting around that. This movie expects the audience to ignore this and accept the tone shift it has presented.
As a result of this change, all of the characters become unlikable. It's hard for any audience to watch a film like a slasher with absolutely no one to root for. In a way, you can compare it to The Devil's Rejects. That film also tried to paint its despicable leads in a somewhat sympathetic light. The difference is that movie earns it by having William Forsythe's character gradually become more and more obsessed with vengeance until it leads to his downfall. Even then, the payoff for the entire film is earned and suitable for the events that preceded it. That's not the case in Texas Chainsaw 3D. To go into this any more is veering into dangerous spoiler territory, so it's best to just say that the film's tone shift happens towards the end and it ruins a lot of the goodwill built up before then.
The movie is in ways a love letter to the original film. You can tell that from the shots that are taken from Tobe Hooper's original, the subtle nods here and there and the very fact they tried to make this a proper sequel to that film. Unfortunately, the flaws are glaring and it makes this only an average film, bordering on bad. But it still has its heart in the right place and a certain amount of charm that is able to make it watchable and at times entertaining. No matter what its flaws are, it's still better than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
The 411: Texas Chainsaw 3D is a misguided attempt to reboot the Chainsaw franchise. While the movie's flaws outweigh the positives, its heart is in the right place. By (rightfully) ignoring the sequels and remake, the filmmakers showed their love of the original. Unfortunately, the place they took the story isn't necessarily the place it should have went. If you're a diehard Chainsaw fan, you're certainly going to want to see this. But it's nothing more than an average (and sometimes below average) slasher film.