Review: New 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' Misfires with an Interesting Concept
by Jeremy Kirk
January 4, 2013
The "Massacre" is out of the title, but that doesn't mean things don't get ugly. Texas Chainsaw 3D, touted as the first direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's 1974 original, is more an alternate timeline to the bloody franchise. Any notion of consistency the franchise had split the moment Matthew McConaughey showed up with a mechanical leg in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation. Yes, that happened. But the new film brings its own energy and, believe it or not, interesting twist to the series. There's definitely problems abound, but as far as surface level horror goes, Texas Chainsaw 3D cuts just a little better than average.
The opening moments do hint at a direct sequel structure, showing moments from Hooper's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre over titles like a highlight reel of ignorant teens getting butchered. Cut to the next day where we see the direct results of the Sawyer clan killing Sally Hardesty's friends and brother. Police arrive, then a mob. Soon the house is bullet-ridden, set ablaze, and every member of the Sawyer clan of cannibal butchers is thought dead. But you know how that goes.
A baby survived the massacre, and 20 years later the now-grown woman finds she has inherited a house willed to her by her biological grandmother. Unaware of her real family, Heather, played by Alexandra Daddario, and her friends travel to the backwoods of Texas to find and claim her new home. Instead of finding cherished memories of a sweet and loving family, Heather and her friends find Leatherface housed in the cellar and ready to get out for some chainsaw-loving fun.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has bounced from rights-holder to rights-holder for years, a cause for the vast differences in the series' structure. Every once in a while, a new Leatherface movie would show up, and it might have some connection to the original film. Usually it's on an ancillary level, small details in screenwriting that don't amount to much. But Twisted Pictures, the production company behind the Saw franchise, along with a slew of screenwriters, have taken an interesting approach here.
Setting up a sort-of epilogue to the original film and building a story from that point means more than just having mindless teens wandering into the house and being chased through the woods. The screenplay here bounces from idea to idea, more often than not rushing through what should be more elaborately crafted sequences. The opening shoot-out is chief among these, zipping through it in five minutes time to get to the meat of the story. Director John Luessenhop and his production team did a fine job recreating the look of original home. It's a shame it, along with some fellow faces from the original film, only gets a few minutes of screen time.
Fortunately, the film doesn't die from there. That comes later but only after we get a nice wham-bang of a slasher movie, Heather and her friends quickly finding Leatherface, quickly begin getting picked off, and the energy of Texas Chainsaw 3D quickly building to what promises to be a solid horror movie. Luessenhop even finds ways of putting in nice nods to Hooper's original - The constant shots of asses in red shorts could be a new drinking game - while still coming up with new and inventive ways to show the action. A particular car wreck in the background with Leatherface watching in the foreground was a nice choice.
Unfortunately, all that gets played out with an hour left to fill, and neither Luessenhop nor the team behind the screenplay find a way of keeping the intensity of the film going. Instead, we're left watching cuts between a woman in a room and an investigation through the house. Long instances of steady shots and little going on eventually wear, and the film's momentum stops dead under the weight of a story too convoluted for its own good. The early setup and character traits for the film's "last girl" provide a setting for something more than a little interesting in Texas Chainsaw 3D's climax, but it's never fulfilling and never scary. Leatherface is shot in shadows and Dan Yeager has original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen's movements down, but the fright is sapped out of the character in favor of something that's supposed to be crowd-pleasing and cheer-worthy. The end of this movie is neither.
What it is is complex and more confusing than it needs to be. Don't even try to sort out the timeline in terms of what year events take place in this movie, but that's a detail when there are bigger problems with Texas Chainsaw 3D. To say that it's not the worst modern horror has to offer isn't saying a lot to the film's credit. Hell, it's not even the worst the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has to offer, but there is much in Texas Chainsaw 3D for fans of the series and the genre to enjoy. Sequels are sure to come. They always will with franchise like this, and if the same team is behind the next Leatherface adventure, it won't be the worst decision that's been made for the series. Another glowing endorsement.
Jeremy's Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 13 Comments
I heard the film is rife with anachronisms since it's supposed to be in the 90's. did you spot any?
Lincoln Smith on Jan 4, 2013
It's not even that. The movie is clearly set in 2012. The events in the opening take place in 1974, then it jumps 20 years. Somehow that gets them in 2012. There are iPhones for God's sake. So dumb.
Jeremy Kirk on Jan 4, 2013
Lincoln Smith on Jan 5, 2013
I'm incredibly curious about it, and since I have MoviePass I see everything now, so this is on the list... but what I'm most curious about is how the 3D fairs. I heard it was half and half... half shot with 3D cameras, half conversion. But some how I'm guessing it was all conversion.
Kento on Jan 4, 2013
I Agree...I liked it!
tuhdaze on Jan 4, 2013
The cinematography was outstanding. I'm sick to death of CG blood. Please don't do that any more. Please.
OfficialJab on Jan 4, 2013
I went into this thinking it was going to suck pretty bad but I was so pleasantly surprised! I actually enjoyed it and for the first time in the franchise I was rooting for Leatherface. Yeah there were things wrong with it like the weird time line but I it didn't matter! The 3D was not impressive at all but I loved the movie none the less. I'm not crazy about the original and so far I've liked the last 2 and now this one they've done. I really love Tania Raymonde and want to see her in more stuff. The main girl did a great job too!
Crazy Legs on Jan 4, 2013
Original on May 16, 2013
Considering its twist, I think the film would have been better if there were little hints from the beginning of where the story would ultimately lead to. SPOILER ALERT I'd be interested in seeing a sequel if it gave a damn about realistically presenting how this seemingly normal girl would deal with living with Leatherface.
Chris on Jan 6, 2013
Fudging the TIME LINE only infuriated a loyal following of fans from the original. The whole "20 years later" flopped badly with the showing of i-Phones and modern day hair cuts, vehicles, etc Here's an idea....set the film in 1994? Theres your "20 years later", your 20 years old looking maine character, and everything makes sense. OR.....go with modern day, a 60 year old Leatherface would be fine, and why NOT have a 38 or 39 year old lead female? No shame in it? Based on the insult of the time line , i will not be watching any sequels that come with this, unless its a PREQUEL to the 1974 orginal that would give us back story on the Sawyer family becoming the way they did.
Caleb Shaw on Apr 1, 2013
Funny you should mention prequel Caleb! I have written a prequel and will be filming it this summer! Check out my fb page "First Annual Barbeque"! Steve
Original on May 16, 2013
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiiW5e3iUgw Here is the trailer for First Annual Barbecue! I hope some of you think this will make a good prequel!
Merlo1980 on Jul 2, 2013
Also, help support our Indiegogo campaign! http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/first-annual-barbecue/x/3362194 We need all the support we can get if we're gonna get this movie off the ground! Thanks
Merlo1980 on Jul 4, 2013
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