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'Texas Chainsaw 3D' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating

By

'Texas Chainsaw 3D' movie poster.
© Lionsgate
In 2003, Tobe Hooper's genre classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was an early "victim" of the 21st century wave of horror movie remakes -- followed shortly thereafter by the likes of The Amityville Horror, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine and more. Now, a decade later, apparently enough time has passed for Hollywood to revisit the franchise, this time with a sequel -- never mind that there was already a Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986.

The Plot

Picking up immediately after the events in the 1974 original, lone "massacre" escapee Sally reports her harrowing ordeal to local police, who surround the Sawyer family home and end up in a standoff with the psychotic clan. However, just as the Sawyers are about to turn over the mentally deficient Jed (i.e., "Leatherface") -- who, for some reason, is the only one the cops are after -- to Sheriff Hooper (Thom Barry), a lynch mob appears with guns blazing. Powerless to stop them, the sheriff watches in horror as the house is burned to the ground and all the Sawyers are shot dead -- all, that is, except one.

A baby girl is rescued by mob members Gavin and Arlene Miller, who raise the child as their own until 20 or so years later, when she receives a notice that her grandmother Verna Sawyer Carson (Marilyn Burns) has died and left her a house in the same small town of Newt, Texas. The young woman, now known as Heather (Alexandra Daddario), is upset that her parents never told her she was adopted and decides to head to Texas to see her inheritance. Her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) and friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) come along for the ride.

What they don't realize, though, is that the house is still occupied. Deep in its bowels, Leatherface has been lurking all these years, and he's highly protective of his property. You could say he has an axe -- er, chainsaw -- to grind.

The End Result

Alexandra Daddario in 'Texas Chainsaw 3D'.

Alexandra Daddario in 'Texas Chainsaw 3D'.

Photo: Justin Lubin © Lionsgate
Texas Chainsaw 3D ignores the original film's three sequels, not to mention the remake and subsequent prequel, but since few of those movies' storylines are consistent with one another, that's not as troublesome as other elements of the script. For one, the timeline is decidedly wonky, if we're to assume the initial massacre occurred in 1974 and the events in this film take place in the present day, 39 years later. That would make Heather 39, which she most certainly is not, and would put Leatherface well into his 60s, if not 70s, making him a less-than-intimidating senior citizen. Judging from Heather's apparent age, however, it seems the filmmakers want us to believe this film takes place about 20 years after the original (although nothing about it feels '90s), going out of their way to obscure not only the present date, but also the date of the original incident (on newspapers, tombstones, etc.).

Still, that's a minor quibble in comparison to the script's main shortcoming: the characters themselves. Horror movies aren't known to be populated by MENSA members, but Texas Chainsaw 3D's band of idiots is one of the most boneheaded you'll ever encounter. Their particular brand of stupidity goes beyond the standard "let's unnecessarily split up" genre clichés; these people honestly seem mentally deficient. At one point, they try to drive through a metal gate rather than stop to enter the code (which they have); of course, their van ends up disabled. Later, as Heather is fleeing from Leatherface, she actually tries to escape by climbing into a car of a MOVING FERRIS WHEEL, as if it won't just bring her back around to the waiting psycho killer. And time after time, our "heroes" act as if their legs (or perhaps their brains) have atrophied, choosing to hide rather than logically reasoning that they can outrun a portly 50-year old carrying a chainsaw.

By the end, the characters's illogical actions become not only unintentionally comical but morally bankrupt, as the writers try to turn Leatherface into some sort of sympathetic, post-modern Frankenstein's monster -- which might work if he didn't have a compulsive need to kill, dismember and eat people.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C (Standard genre hamminess.)
  • Direction: C (A couple of jump scares but otherwise nothing terrifying; non-intrusive use of 3-D.)
  • Script: D- (Dumb, dumb, dumb.)
  • Gore/Effects: B- (There's no "massacre" in the title, but there's plenty of gore on screen, even if some of it is of the CGI variety.)
  • Overall: C- (The basic plot doesn't sully the legacy of the original too much, and it delivers much more gore than that film ever did, but this sequel lacks the original's disturbing edge and is weighed down by dense characters committing unforgivably moronic acts.)

Texas Chainsaw 3D is directed by John Luessenhop and is rated R by the MPAA for strong grisly violence and language throughout. Release date: January 4, 2013.

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