Runtime: 1 HR, 32 MIN
Director: John Luessenhop
Writers: Adam Marcus, Debra Marcus, Kristen Elms, Stephen Susco, Kim Henkel, and Tobe Hooper
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Shaun Sipos, Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Scott Eastwood, Thom Berry, Paul Rae, Richard Riehle, Dan Yeager, and Gunnar Hansen
Nearly forty years ago a low budget, independent film that was shot on 16mm film over the course of four weeks was released. That film, about a group of friends that are terrorized and murdered by a chainsaw wielding psychopath named Leatherface and his deranged family of cannibals forever changed the landscape of horror films. Now Leatherface is ready to don his “leatherface” yet again and put his chainsaw skills to the test in Texas Chainsaw 3D.
Heather accompanied by her boyfriend and her slutty BFF and her boyfriend travel to a small Texas town after learning she was ‘adopted’ and that the Grandmother she never knew has passed away and left her everything. After picking up a hitchhiker, meeting the town’s creepy tenants, and settling into her new mansion they all quickly find out that Heather has also inherited a monster that aims to add them to his collection.
1974′s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre spawned a direct sequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986, two quasi-sequels/reboots/remakes with Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III in 1990 and Texas Chainsaw: The Next Generation. In 2003 the original film was remade with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring Jessica Biel with a prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning following in 2006. Since then the chainsaw has sat unused, collecting dust as found footage horror films have taken hold. Texas Chainsaw 3D ignores the previous sequels/reboots/remakes and is a sequel to the original film similar to what Bryan Singer did with Superman Returns being a sequel to Superman and Superman II while ignoring Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is a harder film to judge than you might think. Aside from the original film, the series as a whole has had a lot more failures than successes. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre had very little gore but a lot of scares, the subsequent films took the opposite approach replacing scares with gallons and gallons of fake blood. Like many of it predecessors TC3D (Texas Chainsaw 3D) doesn’t excel in terms of scares and while it’s still gory it’s not overly excessive by horror movie standards. Even though it’s not a remake the plot is lazily similar to the original. The ‘genius’ of TC3D comes in the film’s third act where the film takes a bizarre turn even for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.
Casting is on par with what you’d expect for a slasher film; we’re treated to teenagers that you’ve probably seen in something but you don’t know what and decent adult actors that are slumming it for a cheesy and easy paycheck. The film’s female protagonist is played by Alexandra Daddario, probably best known theatrically for her role in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and on the small screen for her guest appearances on White Collar, Parenthood, and most recently as Charlies’ love interest in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She does just everything required of non-slutty female character in a slasher film; she jiggles in all the right places, shows some moxie, and isn’t afraid of getting dirty (non-sexually), other than that however she’s mostly a shiny hood ornament that runs and screams.
The rest of cast of mostly would be victims doesn’t fare as well. LOST’s Tania Raymonde plays the promiscuous friend who meets a predictable end while rapper Trey Songz meets the same fate as many other rappers turned actors who find their way into the token black guy role in a horror film. Other victims enter the film with a whimper and then exit the film whimpering (and usually bleeding). Newcomer Dan Yeager dons the leather mask and wields the chainsaw taking over the role of Leatherface. He’s physically intimidating and to a Texas Chainsaw Massacre novice like myself I didn’t notice a great amount of difference between his portray of Leatherface and those that came before him such as Gunnar Hansen. The biggest difference is the filmmaker’s attempt to try and make Leatherface a more sympathetic mass murderer than previously seen.
Making matters better or worse (depending on your point of view) is the 3D factor. Shots from early in the film, mainly those unconverted to 3D from the original film or sequences shot to look like the original film looked bad. At first I thought their was a problem with the projection equipment, but as the film progressed into the main storyline the 3D presentation improved considerably. Texas Chainsaw is very gimmicky, there are plenty of ‘coming at ya’ moments but it’s all pretty appropriate for the tone the film is going for. This isn’t the best looking 3D horror film nor is it the worse, but it is better than average especially for a film taking place mostly at night or in the dark.
Texas Chainsaw 3D won’t win much praise as a thinking man’s movie; it’s not terribly original, many of the characters are barely one-dimensional caricatures, and the film continues the series B-movie mentality. None of that however affected my enjoyment of the TC3D which I’m afraid to say I enjoyed a lot more than I should have.