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.
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.