It has been many years since I saw Tobe Hooper’s 1974 classic “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. I have seen one sequel or spin off called “TCM: The Next Generation” and the more recent reboots of the franchise under Michael Bay’s banner, which was a mediocre update to 2000‘s horror. I thought maybe that it would take more than a few years before Hollywood takes on Leatherface again. Well, director John Luessenhop won’t let the franchise die just yet with a more direct sequel to the 1974 slasher classic with 2013’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D” (which I did not see in 3D, shame on me). Ok, while not exactly a good film, “Texas Chainsaw” proves to be a sincere attempt at a sequel.
The film opens with a montage of several scenes from Hooper’s film that tries to emulate a sense of nostalgia for fans of the original movie and to give details to what had happened. It then goes into an addendum, as it reveals that the Sawyers, the cannibalistic family headed by “Leatherface” was burned alive along with their house by an angry vigilante mob led by Burt Hartman (Paul Rae). Cut to the present and we find alluring Heather (Alexandra Daddario, all grown up from “Percy Jackson and the Olympians”), a young woman who has inherited her grandmother’s estate and learns of her connection to the Sawyers. Accompanied by her boyfriend, Ryan (Tremaine Neverson) and two of her friends, Nikki (sexy Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez), they drive to Texas and run into a hitchhiker named Darryl (Shaun Sipos) on the way. Heather checks out this marvelous house, but they soon find that it comes at a horrible price.
Going into a film such as “Texas Chainsaw”, one would do well to accept and know what exactly they are going in to see. The film is an attempt to fill out the space left behind by the 1974 movie which was a product of its generation and tries to serve up something that captures that feel. Homage and references to the 1974 horror flick are abundant, and it feels like a sequel. The director tries to make up for the contradictory impulses, and he somewhat succeeds, as he allows the film to wallow in the horror of hot bodies being sawed into bloody pieces. It is a decent effort, despite its many issues with the script and its timeline, it delivers what is to be expected. Bloody mayhem that only Leather face (Dan Yeager) can dish out.
Ok, I know cell phones and mobile devices have hurt the slasher genre, and I do have to admit that there were areas in the script that just did not connect well with the original 1974 horror flick. But let us say, if we can ignore those issues for one moment, there then opens a lot of underlying holes that can bother the discriminating movie watcher. The film does have its brand of twists and what one can see as “Texas Justice” and “familial ties”. In a way it works, as long as one can accept that this is a film that wants to be a throwback to all those exploitive horror flicks in the 70’s. I guess while the movie had enough going for it to qualify itself as a modern day slasher flick, once it goes into its details and plot development, it can not stand up under scrutiny. The inherent drama just does not feel that credible.
But, hey, “Texas Chainsaw” was able to deliver bloody mayhem amid this digital age. CGI-blood and even several practical effects were used to maximum effect. After the arrival of the group, the film then wastes little time into getting to ole “Letherface“. Once he shows his face, bodies are going to be ripped apart and the film does not hold back with the gory details. It is pretty violent and Leatherface behaved in a similar way as he had in the original flick. Meat hooks, knives and a very big chainsaw all play their part to cascade the blood and gore onto the screen. The film is pretty violent, and the only thing missing was the standard addition of nudity (it only had hinted at sex Boo!).
The characters in the film are the usual ‘fodder’ for Leatherface to tear apart and destroy, and for some reason, Tania Raymonde’s fresh ‘assets’ always seems to "breeze" pass the camera to remind the male viewer that she sizzles those red short shorts. Heather played by Daddario does have some layers in her character, albeit they are a little predictable. But the actress does well as the lead in a slasher flick; she is a looker and has spunk. This young woman has definitely grown up, and she had this spunky goth-like demeanor around her. Paul Rae and Thom Barry (Sheriff Hooper) make up the film’s links to the original film, as they are what can be seen as opposite sides of Texas justice, and was present to give the viewer something to think about.
Yes, “Texas Chainsaw” was filled with the bloody goodness that I expected. I suppose the flaws in the film is that it tried to do a little more than just simply wallow in the brutality of it all and fiddle around the slasher genre. This would’ve been a good thing, but the twists in the film became a little cumbersome and required a huge suspension of disbelief. There is an intriguing layer that gives the film some punch, and allows for some good gory visuals. Yeah, it may not be garbage like Bay‘s remake and better than the other films in the franchise, but it is still just a tiny step in the right direction.
One of the things that we critics do from time to time is we check out what our competition is saying. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what others thought of a particular motion picture. Sometimes it gives us some peace of mind – a kind of cultural vindication – in knowing we’re not alone in what we thought about a certain performance or a specific script or even an action sequence or two. Other times? Well, it makes some of us feel … more