Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review: Texas Chainsaw 3-D

Texas Chainsaw 3-D
Directed by: John Luessenhop.
Written by: Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms and Stephen Susco based on characters created by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper.
Starring: Alexandra Daddario (Heather Miller), Dan Yeager (Leatherface), Trey Songz (Ryan), Scott Eastwood (Carl), Tania Raymonde (Nikki), Shaun Sipos (Darryl), Keram Malicki-Sánchez (Kenny), James MacDonald (Officer Marvin), Thom Barry (Sheriff Hooper), Paul Rae (Burt Hartman), Richard Riehle (Farnsworth), Bill Moseley (Drayton Sawyer), Gunnar Hansen (Boss Sawyer / Leatherface), David Born (Gavin Miller), Sue Rock (Arlene Miller), Ritchie Montgomery (Ollie), Marilyn Burns (Verna / Sally Hardesty), Dodie Brown (Loretta Sawyer), David Bell (Bear Swayer).
I will give the filmmakers behind Texas Chainsaw 3-D just a little bit of credit for trying something different in this film. I haven’t seen all of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films (this is the 7th, and I’ve seen 4) but I’ve seen enough to stop expecting any of them to be as good as the first film – or for any of them to try something different. This tries something I wasn’t expecting –it tries to make the audience feel sympathy for Leatherface. That the movie doesn’t succeed is probably inevitable (although Rob Zombie did succeed with his Halloween remake by essentially making a biopic of Michael Myers – but I digress). But I admire its guts for trying.

The new film is a direct sequel to the 1974 original – set years later (how many years is a good question since the main character was supposedly the baby in the original film, which would make her 39 today, but’s clearly no more than 20 – so either the opening scene of this film, which is really an alternate ending of the 1974 is supposed to be the early 1990s, although a rather primitive 1990s, or the bulk of the movie is supposed to be the 1990s – and then it’s a more advance 1990s – it’s probably best not to think too much about this). The first scene of the movie has the town Sheriff – and then a group of locals – descend on the Sawyer home after “the girl” got back to town and reported what happened. Rather than arrest, the family, they burn the house to the ground – apparently killing the entire family except the baby. She is taken by one of the men and raised as his own – in what seems like a horrible family. This is our “heroine” Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who will find out that the grandmother she never knew she had has just died, and wants her to come to Texas to collect her inheritance. So she and her friends do just that – discovering a huge house on the edge of the same town the Sawyers once lived in. Not to state the obvious, the grandmother wasn’t a popular person – and they don’t much like knowing that there is a surviving Sawyer. Oh, and of course, not everyone died in the fire.

You can probably guess what happens next. Leatherface appears and starts slaughtering Heather’s friends – and then breaks free into town, and wants revenge on those who killed his family. Lots of people die in grisly ways – either by chainsaw or meat hook mostly, although the film adds some other ways as well.

You can also probably guess that the movie isn’t very good. That’s been true of most of the Texas Chainsaw movies, other than the original which is one of the greatest horror films ever made. It doesn’t help that I didn’t see this one in the theater, meaning I didn’t see this one in 3-D, so all the ridiculous stuff the director do that apparently looked “really cool” in 3-D, looks downright stupid on a TV set.

Now, if all you want to see if people get hacked up with a chainsaw, than this movie delivers that. It’s not a horrible movie – not as bad as I feared anyway – and I genuinely admired the twists in the plot the movie delivers as it progresses – painting the entire town as just as bad as the Sawyer family - this isn’t true, of course, as anyone who saw the original movie knows, but because this movie doesn’t show the Sawyer’s crimes, just the town’s reaction to them, it’s easier to see them as victims – which is an interesting idea, but the movie doesn’t do much with it.

The bottom line is that Texas Chainsaw 3-D is a movie with an interesting idea that they never really follow through on. I wish it did, because had they; it could have been a decent horror movie. Instead, it’s just another movie with Leatherface killing people with a chainsaw.

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