Movie Review: "Texas Chainsaw 3D"
Rating: R (strong grisly violence and language throughout)
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: Jan. 4, 2013
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Stars: 3 out of 5
Whoever would have thought audiences have a reason to love Leatherface? Wait until after the credits roll and you'll experience this odd sensation yourself. In fact, if you can wait past the typical scream and ream of the previous six movies in the franchise, you'll realize this is perhaps the most substantial storyline of any of them yet.
The idea of a seventh "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movie didn't stir the senses. The slasher genre has been at work in this film series through the past three decades, and it clearly has no tendency to change direction. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" (watch trailer here) isn't intended to bring a deeper insight into what breeds mania, and the casting directors aren't focused on drawing high-caliber actors into the project. However, it does stick to the same formula that made the original famous with an emphasis on creepy characters, surprise scares, and plenty of gratuitous violence.
The story begins as Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario, "Hall Pass") discovers she's adopted and has received a large inheritance from her biological grandmother. Together with a handful of friends, she heads to Newt, Texas, to collect her due. Unfortunately, along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker who stirs up a whole mess of trouble as soon as they get to the estate.
As any dedicated fan of the series should expect, Heather isn't the only member of the Sawyer family still sniffing around the place. In a secluded basement hideaway, Jedidiah "Leatherface" Sawyer (Dan Yeager, "Metal Heads") still lives, breathes, and is ready to protect his family members from whatever harm may come their way. Thankfully for Heather, his long-lost cousins who were whisked away by the meddlesome, murderous townsfolk of Newt are alive as well.
This movie opened shortly after the beginning of 2013 and tried to capitalize on the new 3D technology installed in most theaters over the previous year. Unfortunately, as is the case with many of the newly converted horror flicks-or all converted flicks versus those filmed with the technology in mind-the special effects are not very impressive. It's a shame. Watching a raging, hillbilly horror coming at the audience with a chainsaw roaring straight off the screen would have been terrifying, if only for a brief moment.
In "Texas Chainsaw 3D" audiences get a glimpse of the darker side of Newt, Texas, the sleepy little town in which the original story took place. The residents' reaction to the bloodbath of 1974 certainly makes a case for something being in the water. Instead of calling in the state police and helping victims heal, the town bands together to burn the Sawyer family, its home and all its possessions. Left alive by chance is a female infant and her mother. Heather's adoptive father makes quick work of making her an orphan and taking her home to his wife where they raise her illegally as one of their own.
Throughout the movie, the script really impresses the evil quality of the townspeople and gives the audience warning that Heather Miller probably can't stay here while staying safe. The sheriff is a suspicious grouch, his son is a bullish and domineering figure who assumes authority at will, and Heather's own adoptive parents begin to seem less comforting than at the start of the movie.
A series of accidents, mistakes, and ultimately bad decisions on the part of every character in the movie-a quality akin to most campy horror reboots-leads to the death of all of Heather's friends, leaving her alone in a town filled with people who bonded over killing off most of her kin. To say her safety is questionable is an understatement. Thankfully, the craziest dude in town has her back.
Whether or not a well-adjusted young woman could accept the help of a homicidal maniac in order to stay in a house she hadn't heard of a week or so earlier will have to be seen by audiences everywhere. Where Leatherface-or the franchise for that matter-will go after "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is also up in the air. What you can be sure of is an interesting ending that will leave even the hardiest fans grinning smugly.
Interestingly, the reboot of "Texas Chainsaw" was originally intended to be a trilogy. The story was set in a hospital, with prequels happening in Newt. The idea was scrapped for the small budget, a simple script, and a new twist on an old bogeyman. Unfortunately, the studio also gambled on a post-holiday release with a ticket price padded with added 3D costs. Box office turnout was not what was expected. Talks of a sequel have been momentarily shelved as executives wait to see how "Texas Chainsaw 3D" performs after being released on DVD.