Texas Chainsaw 3D

By James Jay Edwards
Released: January 4, 2013
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Lionsgate's TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D continues the legendary story of the homicidal Sawyer family, picking up where Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic left off in Newt, Texas, where for decades people went missing without a trace. The townspeople long suspected the Sawyer family, owners of a local barbecue pit, were somehow responsible. Their suspicions were finally confirmed one hot summer day when a young woman escaped the Sawyer house following the brutal murders of her four friends. Word around the small town quickly spread, and a vigilante mob of enraged locals surrounded the Sawyer stronghold, burning it to the ground and killing every last member of the family – or so they thought. Decades later and hundreds of miles away from the original massacre, a young woman named Heather learns that she has inherited a Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew she had. After embarking on a road trip with friends to uncover her roots, she finds she is the sole owner of a lavish, isolated Victorian mansion. But her newfound wealth comes at a price as she stumbles upon a horror that awaits her in the mansion's dank cellars...
Film Review
There is little doubt that Tobe Hooper's original 1974 version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the pinnacles in horror history. Like all successful horror films, TCM has spawned both inferior sequels and serviceable reboots. Director John Luessenhop (Takers) ignores all of the other entries into the series with his newest installment, Texas Chainsaw 3D starting up right where things left off in 1974.

Texas Chainsaw 3D opens five minutes after the conclusion of the original with Sheriff Hooper (Thom Barry from "Cold Case") convincing the murderous Sawyer family to surrender Jed Sawyer, better known as Leatherface (Dan Yeager from Metal Heads), over to him. Before he can make an arrest, an angry mob led by Burt Hartman (True Grit's Paul Rae) arrives, screaming for some vigilante justice. The group slaughters the family and burn down the house, sparing only one infant child from the carnage. Years later, Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario from "All My Children") gets a notice that her grandmother died and left her some property in Texas. Unaware that she had a grandmother there, Heather heads to Texas with her boyfriend, Ryan (musician Tremaine 'Trey Songz' Neverson) and their friends Carl (American History X's Keram Malicki-Sanchez) and Nikki (Tania Raymonde from "Lost") to check it out. Because it's a Texas Chainsaw movie, they pick up a hitchhiker named Darryl (Rampage's Shaun Sipos) along the way and, upon arrival in the Lone Star State, discover that Heather has inherited a huge mansion that comes with its own cemetery. As Heather learns about her family history, the group discovers that the house comes with another surprise - one in the form of a psychotic killer hidden behind a metal door in the wine cellar.

For all of the hype that has surrounded it, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a disappointment. It starts out promisingly enough with a scene that looks to have been taken right out of The Devil's Rejects, but quickly degenerates into exactly what the viewer expects and has seen before in the other films in the series. The plot unfolds predictably and uneventfully, which is a bad sign for a film that is supposed to shock its audience. By the time things even begin to get original, about halfway through, it's too late; all is lost.

There are huge problems with the film's third act. While it starts off looking to be a pretty serious horror film, as the plot plods on it becomes more and more unbelievable, almost to the point of being comical. This is where Texas Chainsaw 3D starts looking like the other sequels in the franchise; tongue-in-cheek humor, whether intentional or not, is more dominant than scares. For example, in one scene, a van that is rushing to get away from Leatherface on a slashed tire suddenly and inexplicably rolls over. In another scene, Heather grabs onto the back of a ferris wheel car and rides it all the way around to a waiting Leatherface on the other side. Scenes like this aren't scary; they're almost slapstick, and they don't do the production any favors when it comes to being taken seriously.

Texas Chainsaw 3D seems to have the blessing of the original creators. Original writers Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel are credited as writers on this production. Original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre stars Gunnar Hanson, Marilyn Burns and John Dugan all have bit roles as members of the Sawyer family, as does The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Bill Moseley. The entire opening credits include a recap of the original in 3 minutes. The sound department even makes effective use of the flash-bulb sound effect that was so frightening in the first film. Unfortunately, Texas Chainsaw 3D lacks the bite of the original and the humor of the sequels, putting in a dangerous no-man's land that will undoubtedly lead to its being quickly set aside and forgotten.
Special Effects
Texas Chainsaw 3D is easily the most graphic and gory of the TCM films. Little is left to the imagination when it comes to Leatherface's activities and antics; everything is shown on the screen and nothing is held back. The blood and guts effects were designed and created by Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger (the team responsible for the makeup effects in AMC's "The Walking Dead"), and the results are a practical makeup effects dream. Leatherface's butchering and eviscerating of his victims is shown in excruciating detail, with a ton of gratuitous violence including limbs being sawed off and bodies getting cut in half. There's CG blood splattering, but for the most part the effects all look like latex and karo syrup - and they all look great.

Another visual aspect worth noting is the 3D. The 3D is not what one would expect from a Texas Chainsaw movie, meaning it's not all gimmicky saw blades towards the screen. Of course, there are a few of those instances, but for the most part, the 3D is used tastefully and not obnoxiously. The effect is used more for depth perception and for giving the audience the illusion of being part of the movie. While the 3D is not a necessity for appreciating the film, it definitely adds to the experience.
Scary Factor
There are few characters in the horror canon that are as frightening as Leatherface. That being said, the Leatherface that is portrayed in Texas Chainsaw 3D is not the same Leatherface from the other films. While Leatherface is usually anything but subtle, announcing his presence with either the roar of a chainsaw or the slamming of a metal door, this Leatherface is more subdued and sneaky. He is also treated more sympathetically, similar to the way that Freddy Krueger was portrayed in the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a fact which detracts from the threat. This is a kinder, gentler Leatherface. There are a few really terrifying scenes - one where Heather climbs into a coffin in the cemetery to escape while Leatherface saws the top away with her inside comes to mind - but they are far too few, and Texas Chainsaw 3D as a whole cannot hold a candle to the original.

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Release Date
January 4, 2013
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