Poor ol’ Leatherface. With all the reboots, sequels, prequels and remakes of the Texas Chainsaw franchise, no wonder he’s mad.
Fortunately the 2013 reboot/sequel/part prequel is surprisingly entertaining, albeit filled with the stupid decisions from expendable characters we’ve come to expect from the horror genre.
Starting with an impressive recap of the first TCM movie complete with the eerie camera clicks and stock footage, Texas Chainsaw 3D gets things off on the right foot. Is this because all it’s done so far is show scenes from a horror classic? Perhaps. But even when the actual film begins, a seamless transition from the old footage to a shoot-out at the Sawyer household which is reminiscent of The Devils Rejects opening scenes, the drop in quality isn’t all that noticeable.
The meat and bones of the story is this: from the initial shoot-out, a baby is the only apparent survivor from the arson of the Sawyer house. She’s raised by a member of the vigilante mob that killed her family under the new name of Heather, and decades later learns she has inherited a mansion in the Texan town where the slaughter took place. Taking a few friends along for the ride, she returns to the town and uncovers the true horror of what happened to her family, and that she wasn’t the only one left alive.
It’s an unusually slow build up, but against all logic it actually works. Sure the majority of these characters aren’t deep or worth caring about in the slightest, but the back story of Heather (Alexandra Daddario) is one that is steeped in horror history. One little, tiny, niggling point though – Heather was rescued from the fire as a baby in 1974. The film cuts to 2012, which is a gap of 38 years. There’s no way in hell this character is nearly 40 years old; she barely looks 20. But for the sake of suspending disbelief (and believe me, you’ll need to do that a lot with this one) we’ll let it go, because Daddario does a fine job of being the long lost Sawyer. Her friends… not so much. They’re the interchangeable (and wearable, for Leatherface) faces you’ve seen in countless horrors who all meet their maker. Most of them involving a Chainsaw, naturally.
As previously mentioned, this film is 34 years after the original atrocities. Time hasn’t been as kind to Leatherface as it has to Heather – he’s visibly overweight and balding. But he can still got a mean swing on that chainsaw. The kills he provides though are largely disappointing, and lack any real originality; I guess there’s only so many ways you can kill someone with a rapidly rotating blade on a stick. The scares or tension are non-existent too, with only one sequence involving a police officer entering the basement following a blood trail the only thing that comes close to suspense.
Now for the stupid decisions. The first big one is picking up a hitchhiker with a dodgy alibi as to why he’s thumbing the road. The next is leaving that hitchhiker, a guy they’ve barely known for more than a few hours, in the mansion to “look after things” while they head to town to pick up groceries. Oh, and they also give him the only set of keys to the house. Sometimes you just wonder if these kids are asking to be murdered. I’m not going to go into all of the calamitous calls these youngsters make, because that would ruin the fun, but you’ll know what they are when you see them instantly.
Overall though, Texas Chainsaw 3D valiantly tries to stay faithful to the TCM timeline and succeeds for the most part. There’s numerous nods and winks to the film that started it all, and the climax clearly leaves it open for more additions to the series. It’s not perfect, but if Leatherface ever does return, I’d be up for another slice.
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