Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)

**This review contains spoilers**

In 1974, a mob in Newt, Texas corners the Sawyer family at their house. Led by Mayor Burt Hartman (Paul Rae), a mob of townspeople demand blood for the crimes of Jed Sawyer (or “Leatherface“). Sheriff Hooper (Thom Berry) tries to make a deal with the Sawyer family, that would secure Jed’s peaceful surrender. But Burt orders his mob to burn down the Sawyer house, killing most of the Sawyer family. Jed’s chainsaw is found in the charred rubble, but the mob can’t find Jed’s body.

The mob takes Jed’s chainsaw as a trophy prize to hang in the local tavern, but Gavin Miller (one of the townspeople) finds two members of the Sawyer family scared and by themselves. Loretta Sawyer (Dodie Brown) cradles her infant daughter, Edith, but Gavin murders Loretta, and he takes the baby for his infertile wife, Arlene. Edith’s name is changed to Heather, and the Miller’s raise her as their child.

Years later, Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is a grown woman, and she receives a letter about her grandmother's passing. In her will, Verna Carson (Heather’s grandmother) gives Heather a luxurious mansion in Newt, Texas, and Heather learns the truth about her “adoption” from the Millers. Heather decides to visit the mansion with her boyfriend, Ryan (Trey Songz), her best friend Nikki (Tania Raymonds), her boyfriend, Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez), and in an exchange for a dropped lawsuit, the friends pick up a hitchhiker named Darryl (Shaun Sipos).

Upon arrival in Newt, Texas, Heather receives Verna’s final letter and the keys to the mansion from the Sawyer family’s lawyer, Farnsworth (Richard Riehle). Heather tries to grasp the sight the Sawyer family cemetery in the front yard, but she’ll have to deal with a bigger problem. Behind a secret door, Jed Sawyer (Dan Yeager) is living in the dank cellars beneath the mansion. Sheriff Hooper tries to derail the sinister plans of a bitter Mayor Hartman, as Jed embarks on another killing spree.

First of all, Texas Chainsaw 3D IS a remake. It’s not the only and first direct sequel to Tob Hooper’s 1974 classic. Tob Hooper directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, and here’s a DVD cover to prove it.


Sorry, but I just had to mention this. Texas Chainsaw 3D tries to ignore its predecessor with the “direct sequel” stuff, but you can’t just omit the existence of a film like it never happened. I have the same feelings about The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo 2011. They marketed the 2011 film as a direct adaptation of the novel, ignoring the 2009 Swedish film. 

Anyway, Alexandra Daddario delivers the best performance in this film, easily. Raymonds is just eye candy, and director John Luessenhop is obsessed with constant close-up shots of her ass. Trey Songz is just there, and Malicki-Sanchez doesn’t last long. Rae is a believable loud-mouthed and rambunctious redneck, and Thom Berry is decent enough as Sheriff Hooper.

Now on to Leatherface. Jed has his moments as an intimidating chainsaw wielding maniac. His cross-dressing habit is bizarre (for obvious reasons), but Jed is still a ruthless and cold-hearted killer looking for revenge. Thomas Hewitt (Leatherface in the 2003 remake and The Beginning) is still my pick for the most intimidating Leatherface. Andrew Bryniarski (Hewitt) embodied the presence of an unstoppable killing machine, but Dan Yeager provides some hope for future installments in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. Plus, Yeager probably did some research (i.e. watching other Massacre films) for his character, because he really nailed Leatherface’s clunky style of running.

The 3D effects were impressive, Texas Chainsaw 3D is loaded with bloody and gruesome gore, and I enjoyed  John Luessenhop’s usage of footage from the 1974 original. Luessenhop shows actual footage from the 1974 original during the intro, and then he makes the transition to the present setting of Texas Chainsaw 3D. Clever trick, and I appreciated the extra effort.

With all that said, don’t get your hopes up for anything special in this film. With the exception of Heather’s decision at the end (more on that later), Texas Chainsaw 3D is a just a mindless slasher film, nothing less, nothing more. They pulled out every horror cliché imaginable for this film. As she runs from Leatherface’s attack, Heather trips and falls down twice. As the friends try to escape Leatherface, Ryan runs into some trouble, when the hippie van won’t start.

And they just had to throw in this stupid “search the house” scene towards the end. One of Sheriff Hooper’s deputies is searching the Sawyer mansion. He’s armed with one gun, a flashlight, and he uses his cell phone as  live look-in camera for Sheriff Hooper and Mayor Hartman. The deputy is walking though the  mansion ALONE, and he follows a long trail of blood to Leatherface’s cellar. He discovers Leatherface’s den of body parts and blood, BUT he never takes the numerous chances to safely leave the mansion, and of course Leatherface murders him in cold-blood, and he decides to use his face as a new mask. Ugh.

The slasher blueprint for Texas Chainsaw 3D is very predictable, but Heather’s SHOCKING decision at the end is a different story. So after narrowly escaping Leatherface’s attack at the town carnival, Heather is sitting in the Newt police station for protection, and Sheriff Hooper leaves a box of evidence from the Sawyer family murders on the table. Heather learns the truth about the Sawyer massacre, and the townspeople’s assault on her family. Oh, and Leatherface is her cousin.

Heather sneaks out of the police station, but she’s picked up by Deputy Carl. Throughout the film, Heather forms a friendly relationship with Carl…..until Carl reveals himself as Burt’s son. Carl isn’t trying to help Heather. He’s kidnapping her, and Carl is taking Heather to the local slaughterhouse. In an attempt to destroy the Sawyer bloodline once and for all, Burt plans on torturing and murdering Heather, and when he shows up, Burt will finish off Leatherface. Heather is tied-up and helpless, but Jed uses his chainsaw to free Heather. And as Sheriff Hooper gives the green light, Jed murders Burt.

Heather finally reads her grandmother’s last letter, and she learns about the strings attached to her new mansion: Heather must take care of Leatherface, and keep him hidden from the outside world.

Of course, a handful of horror aficionados are creaming themselves over Leatherface’s anti-hero status in this film. I’ll give Texas Chainsaw 3D some credit for this bold move. It  was an unexpected twist, and I laughed myself into tears, when Heather shouted “do your thing cuz!” as she gave him the chainsaw in the slaughterhouse. But where are they’re going to go now? The Heather character fully embraced her Sawyer heritage towards the end, and she agreed to take care of her cousin Jed, but can Heather really trust Jed? What’s going to stop him from losing his cool, and slicing Heather in half with his chainsaw? Plus, Heather keeping Leatherface a secret is easier said than done. The people of Newt are aware of his presence, and there’s only ONE place, where he could hide from the world. Is Heather capable of fighting off an entire town to protect her cousin? I doubt it.

Storyline wise, the anti-hero twist could be a disastrous hurdle for the future, but after thinking it over, I’ve settled into the “let’s see where it goes” mind set.

Texas Chainsaw 3D is trash, but it’s fun trash. You’ll see plenty of “don’t go in there!” or “don’t do that!” moments in this film, and the cheesy one-liners (“WELCOME TO TEXAS MOTHERFUCKER!”) might bring a few cheap laughs out of you.  Horror fans, who love gruesome gore and sickening deaths should enjoy this, and Texas Chainsaw 3D is my first guilty pleasure of 2013. Also, Gunner Hansen (the original Leatherface) has a cameo in this film, but I didn’t notice him.

Final Rating: 5/10

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