By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde and Bill Moseley
More so than any other franchise in horror history, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a series of films that has been desperately trying to chase the tail of its masterful beginning. Now, let it be said that I am a huge fan of the original film. It is a visceral juxtaposition of Hollywood filmmaking and snuff film fodder that succeeded on every level at getting under your skin. Characters onscreen were being portrayed by people we had never seen before (and, in most instances, would never see again), and it seemed we were bear witness to their slaughter right before our eyes. Since then, save for a few moments in original director Tobe Hooper’s 1986 sequel, there has been absolutely nothing worth remembering in the ongoing series of three sequels, a remake and a prequel. Yes I realize that the 2003 remake has its fans. But to me, it felt like nothing more than telling us it takes place in the same exact time frame of the original, only to spoon feed us horror starring R Lee Ermey. Sorry, as big of a presence Ermey is, that film didn’t mesh well as a narrative story or a strong feeling of terror. Which brings us to Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. A mishmash of bad ideas and even worse characters, Chainsaw 3D proved not only to be a waste of time, but also a cat that really should have stopped chasing its tail decades ago.
Now, before I give evidence to back up the last sentence of that paragraph, I will say this: I think that the people behind the scenes of Chainsaw 3D were not going for ‘just another addition’ to the Chainsaw series. As has been promoted since the beginning, this is a continuation of the first film, and it in turn completely ignores what came after. I think that if you are going to do another Chainsaw film, this is the direction to take it. Director John Luessenhop (Takers) has set an aesthetic that reads like 2009’s Friday The 13th remake combined with Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects. And it serves as a catalyst of how to tell a story that takes place 37 years ago in modern times. Luessenhop, in addition to discovering a potentially great future scream queen in Daddario, also fills the film with cameos galore (original stars Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns make appearances) and it feels like a tribute to what came before it. It was also nice to see flashes of the first film, albeit quick cutting 3D, in the opening frames of this one. A few of the chainsaw sequences were intense, making great use of the 3D format. However, when talking about the characters and the sheer nothingness of what transpires onscreen, it is not difficult to separate the validity of the stupidity most of these characters show from just how dumb the script is.
It must be said that I do not think that anybody writing this thing (there are 4 credited writers) did NOT know what they were doing. After all, one of the credited writers is Adam Marcus, co-writer and director of Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. He has enough knowledge of the genre to know that none of these characters are going to catch fire with an audience. But, that does not make them any more tolerable. Heather (Daddario), the only one who has an ounce of likability, reads like a goth chick with some major issues. So naturally, she seems like the perfect woman for Ryan (songster Songz), who really takes the cake with some of his actions. In addition to Ryan, they’re three more people whom I am not even going to bother naming because you will forget their names within ten minutes of leaving the theater anyway, that decide to join their little road trip to see some new Texas property which Heather inherited. In other words, no one in this film is memorable, and the situation they all find themselves in drives us to wish Leatherface and his family would just chop them up already more than hope for their safety.
Speaking of Leatherface (Yeager), he is more toned down in this one than the huge overpowering presence Andrew Bryniarski was in the previous two films. And, in all honesty, that was a welcome approach. Luessenhop, to his credit, attempts to create tension using this new version of the masked killer. But, it is no use as the scene he stages in which an officer investigates the Sawyer home borders on the ridiculously stupid. In essence, a 3D chainsaw in my face for an hour and a half would have been more tolerable than spending any amount of time with all of these characters, save Heather. There is no way I can recommend you spending money to go see Chainsaw 3D. Because, as big of a horror fan that I am, the 92 minute running time tended to drag, and even a kill involving someone getting sliced in half wasn’t enough to hold my interest. If this movie proves anything, it is that it is time to put Leatherface and his crazy family to bed once and for all. Because, as much good will that has been draped upon the revolutionary first film, it has deteriorated little by little with each passing sequel (or prequel. Or pre-sequel). In conclusion, the tributes are there but a tolerable film is not. In my honest opinion, anything after you see Leatherface dancing in the streets in the closing frames of said original film should not include Chainsaw or Massacre in its title. Just like the characters of these movies, I recommend you just leave it be.
2 out of 5