The saw is family…
The H-Bomb: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has to be one of the most confusing, disjointed franchises in the history of cinema. Not because the movies are hard to follow, but because there is, for the most part, no continuity from film to film. First, there was Tobe Hooper’s 1974 masterpiece, which few will dispute is one of the greatest horror films ever made. Then came Part 2 in 1986, and despite being directed once again by Hooper, it was tonally and stylistically a complete 180 from the original. Even though it’s gained a cult following, at the time of its release, no one knew what to make of it, and everyone hated it. A few years later, Part 3 came along, which ignored Part 2, declaring itself the “True Sequel” to Part 1. Then came a fourth one, which ignored both 2 and 3, and declared itself the “True Sequel” to the original. In 2003, we got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre “re-imagining,” which ignored all the previous movies, including the original. That was followed by a prequel that no one gave a bull’s backside about, and now we have, even though no one asked for it, Texas Chainsaw 3D, which hits the reset button yet again, disregarding all the sequels, prequels, and remakes, and calls itself… you guessed it, the “True Sequel” to the 1974 film. Confused yet? I certainly hope so.
I will say this for Texas Chainsaw 3D, of all these various sequels claiming to be the one, “real” sequel, it’s the one that probably comes the closest, in that it picks up directly where the original ended. Soon after Sally, the first film’s sole survivor, escapes from the farmhouse that Leatherface and his cannibalistic kin calls home, the town Sheriff, as well as a lynch mob of local cousin fuckers, show up looking to take Leatherface down one way or another. After the predictable shootout, which plays like a shittier version of the opening stand off from The Devil’s Rejects, the farmhouse is burned to the ground, and all of Leatherface’s family is killed. All except for two. One is Leatherface himself, who somehow managed to slip away during the gun battle, and the other is an infant, who is discovered in the burned ruins of the house and adopted by a member of the lynch mob.
Cut to modern day, and this will create a serious logistical fuck up, we see that the baby has grown up to become Heather (Alexandra Daddario), a pretty art student in her twenties. Out of the blue, she receives a letter telling her that she’s inherited a large house in rural Texas from a dead grandmother she never knew she had. She doesn’t want to make the road trip by herself, so she’s accompanied by her boyfriend, Ryan (Trey Songz), her slutty BFF, Nikki (Tania Raymonde), Nikki’s boyfriend, Kenny (Kerim Malicki-Sanchez), as well as Darryl (Shaun Sipos), a hitchhiker they pick up after nearly running him over with their Mystery Machine.
Once they arrive at Grandma’s house, the first thing they notice is that the old lady was really into security, as there are locked doors all over the place. Everyone assumes that Granny was just a little paranoid, as the house is huge, with lots of nice things inside of it. However, there is one door that absolutely should not be opened under any circumstances… the big door down in the basement. For behind that door, and I’m not spoiling anything, resides a mentally challenged mass murderer who likes to wear people’s faces as masks, and whose weapon of choice is a certain gas powered cutting tool.
As you may have already surmised, some dingus does open that basement door, and for the first time in decades, Leatherface is let loose with his chainsaw roaring, and it really doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out where it all goes from there.
I said recently in another review that sometimes going into a movie with low expectations can actually be a good thing, and my expectations for Texas Chainsaw 3D were at about a cockroach’s eye level. I went in anticipating something truly abysmal, something so bad it might even rival TCM4 as being the worst of the series… and after the movie was over, I thought, “It wasn’t that bad.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty shitty, with a weak, routine plot, terrible acting for the most part, and characters who are so paper thin that calling them underdeveloped is something of an understatement. Make no mistake, Texas Chainsaw 3D is indeed a bad movie… it’s just not the tremendous, horrendous travesty that some have been claiming it to be.
Of course if one were to nitpick this plot, there would be quite a bit to complain about. Take the one big logic gaffe that everyone who has seen this flick is talking about, the age of the heroine. She is an actress in her early twenties, playing a character who is obviously in her early twenties. The thing is, the very beginning of the film, when the character is an infant, is set in 1973. The rest of the film, as we can see from the date of death on the grandma’s gravestone, takes place in 2012. Do I really need to do the math for you people? This chick should be pushing forty!
It’s that issue that indicates the true reason why Texas Chainsaw 3D is a bad movie, everything about it, from the writing to the way it was shot, just feels so fucking lazy. Watching this flick, I really got the feeling like it was made by Lionsgate on the quick and cheap, as a way of maybe jump starting a new horror franchise, since their other “Saw” series (which gets an unfunny nod here) is done. The story, with the exception of a “twist” at the end, is totally devoid of imagination. The characters (or more appropriately, the chainsaw fodder) are total stock horror movie stereotypes with about as much depth as a puddle of piss.
There’s absolutely no suspense in the movie, or even any tension to speak of. John Luessenhop’s direction is flatter than a squashed armadillo on a Texas highway, and about as uninspired as uninspired can get. Say what you will about the Michael Bay produced remake, at least that felt cinematic, like a film made to be experienced in a theater. This looks and feels more like a TV movie with gore in it. One scene with potential, that Lussenhop blew completely, was a sequence in which Leatherface goes rampaging through a local carnival. Just think of the possibilities, because Lussenhop sure as hell didn’t… damn, what a wasted opportunity. And, before I forget, I should note that for a movie with 3D in the title, there are only two shots that actually bother to utilize it (one of which is of the chainsaw protruding from the screen, where the chainsaw is out of focus!), making it so not worth the extra dollars for a 3D ticket.
Now, even with all the numerous flaws, the movie is still fairly easy to sit through. At least I was able to sit through it (what a ringing endorsement), and, unlike V/H/S, it actually knew when to fucking end. It doesn’t shy away from the guts and gore, as many a redneck are mangled and disemboweled via chainsaw, so the more blood thirsty members of the audience will get what they paid for and leave happy (though the CGI blood looks as fake as ever). The script, which was pretty worthless and half-assed for the most part, does feature a “twist” involving the lead character and Leatherface that is kind of interesting, however, when one stops to seriously think about it, it really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Still, just taking the twist in stride, it shows that someone at some point at least put an iota of thought into this thing, which is more than can be said for that piece of shit Part 4.
Those few slightly redeeming aspects out of the way, Texas Chainsaw 3D is still a long ways away from being a good movie, and unless you’re a die hard fan of the series who absolutely must see good ol’ Leatherface bash in heads and saw off limbs on the big screen, this is not worth checking out in the theater. It, as I said, sure as hell is not worth the thirteen bucks to see the almost non-existent 3D. This obvious cash grab is a Redbox rental at best, and for most people, it won’t even be worth that.