A word to the wise: If you’re making a direct sequel to what many consider to be one of the best horror movies ever made, do yourself a favor and make sure it’s a damn good follow up. More importantly, don’t use the opening credits to show every highlight and classic moment from the first film, ultimately reminding the audience just how much better your source of inspiration is compared to what they’re about to sit through. Texas Chainsaw 3D fails as both a successor to Tobe Hooper’s original tale as well as an outlet for introducing Leatherface to a new generation. Bad acting, poor storytelling, and cheesy moments abound to ensure that the first horror film of 2013 may also be a candidate for one of the worst of the year.
The premise for Texas Chainsaw 3D is simple enough: A young woman named Heather receives an inheritance completely out of the blue from a grandmother she never knew existed. What’s she inherited, you ask? A mansion in Texas; with a set of keys to every room in the house and a note from her deceased relative that she doesn’t open until it’s convenient for the plot. Traveling with her boyfriend, Ryan, their two friends, Nikki and Kenny, and a hitchhiker they pick up along the way, Heather drives to the small town where her new home is located, and meets a few of the residents including the town’s mayor, Burt Hartman. When the group of young twenty-somethings settle down for the night at Heather’s new abode they fall victim to that chainsaw wielding simpleton we all know and love, Leatherface. Who as it turns out has been living in the mansion’s basement since the first film’s conclusion, after a group of drunken redneck vigilantes attack the Sawyer household, killing every single family member except Leatherface, who they’ve mistakenly thought was dead even though they never found a body.
The concept is actually interesting. I feel in the hands of better filmmakers Texas Chainsaw 3D could have been a much more enjoyable experience. Sadly, this isn’t the case. In fact, the movie is so poorly paced and clumsy in how it delivers its narrative that it almost feels like watching two movies. The first half is a slasher flick where five young adults travel to a seemingly empty house and are killed off one by one, while the other half dedicates itself to a different storyline involving key players in the murder of the Sawyer family, including Mayor Hartman and the local sheriff.
It’s almost like the director and the screenwriters were struggling to come up with a story that would fill out a ninety-minute running time. You can almost envision them trying to plot out the film in pre-production with seemingly no clue as to where they would take the story, and then later in post-production trying with desperate optimism to piece together something passable out of the footage they’d shot. Quite frankly the mediocrity of this latest entry into the ‘Texas Chainsaw’ series should be proof enough that there really isn’t anywhere else to take Leatherface. He’s a different beast from Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. He’s not an immortal force of evil you can stick into any cliché horror situation and set him loose on the latest group of teenagers. To the contrary, Leatherface is a character that wants to be left alone. He’s definitely a psychopath, ruthless in his killing methods, but he only lashes out when threatened.
This is one of the main gripes I have with this movie. They misinterpreted their main star. Here, Leatherface acts like Jason, Michael, or Freddy. Half the time it felt like watching a Friday the 13th entry instead of a Texas Chainsaw movie. Leatherface is a blunt instrument, a tool used and melded by other demented members of the Sawyer family. In the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ the killer is intimidating yet awkward, frightening with a hint of comedic undertone, mysterious and tragic all wrapped into the mind of a psychopath. In 2013, he’s a maniac with a chainsaw, nothing more.
As for the rest of the cast, I understand that horror movies have a reputation (some might say an expectancy, these days) for bad acting. But I swear most of the scenes with the young cast must have been done in one take. Did the director even care? Did the cast? Probably not, because everybody’s delivery feels like they’re sleepwalking through their roles. Hell, it’s not even convincing when it comes time to run around and scream because the crazy guy with the chainsaw just showed up!
If Texas Chainsaw 3D is remembered for anything it will be for all of the incredibly stupid moments sprinkled throughout the film. You will have a cringe on your face the rest of the film after Nikki holds up a shotgun and awkwardly shrieks “Welcome To Texas, Motherfucker!” Yes, if anything was filmed in one take it was certainly that line. You’ll laugh your ass off as Leatherface pursues Heather through a carnival and literally throws a very CGI-looking chainsaw at a cop that orders him to drop his weapon. Speaking of police officers, you’ll probably want to leave the theatre and take a few deep breaths after a scene where one of the town’s deputies uses his iPhone camera to transmit footage back to the police station where both Sheriff Hooper and Mayor Hartman give conflicting orders to wait for backup and continue investigating the house. It’s a scene that tries to create tension by giving the audience a first person view of the officer’s exploration into Leatherface’s domain, but fails miserably in its execution and comes across as yet another scene where you and your friends can have a good laugh.
One last gripe I have with the movie is the masks that Leatherface wears. In the opening scene he’s wearing the same mask he had on at the end of the original ‘Texas Chainsaw.’ It doesn’t even look real. It looks like someone from the crew bought a Leatherface Halloween mask from a local costume shop. The other two he changes into later on look like rejected Slipknot masks. Did they even take the time to hire a special effects artist to come in and make the masks? I don’t know why I asked that question. We already know the answer. Much like every other aspect of Texas Chainsaw 3D, the masks and Leatherface’s overall presentation are incredibly sloppy.
If you’re a fan of The Texas Chainsaw series then nothing’s going to stop you from seeing this latest entry. You’ve probably already seen it considering this review was written a few days after its release. I can’t tell you about the 3D effects because I went to a 2D screening at my local theater. I somehow doubt the addition of those effects would have made the movie any better regardless, and I’m happy I saved the extra $3.50. If you’re a casual horror fan looking for a good time at the movies, look elsewhere. Texas Chainsaw 3D can at least take solace in the fact that it’s still not the worst entry in the series. That title will forever belong to ‘The Next Generation.’
If you're a fan of The Texas Chainsaw series then nothing's going to stop you from seeing this latest entry. You’ve probably already seen it considering this review was written a few days after its release. I can't tell you about the 3D effects because I went to a 2D screening at my local theater. I somehow doubt the addition of those effects would have made the movie any better regardless, and I’m happy I saved the extra $3.50. If you’re a casual horror fan looking for a good time at the movies, look elsewhere. Texas Chainsaw 3D can at least take solace in the fact that it’s still not the worst entry in the series. That title will forever belong to ‘The Next Generation.’