Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D / Cert: 18 / Director: John Luessenhop / Screenplay: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms / Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood / Release Date: January 9th
The latest Texas Chainsaw Massacre is missing something, and not just a quarter of the title. At the start of Texas Chainsaw 3D, Leatherface has it all: Family. Massive house. Generous selection of chainsaws. But it doesn't last. An angry mob descends, and it looks as though Leatherface is about to lose everything – even his own sequels, retconned away with the rest of his family.
But wait! One solitary twig remains on the family tree. In what could have been a truly terrifying episode of Who Do You Think You Are, we meet young Heather (Daddario) on the day that she discovers she was adopted. An estranged grandmother has left her a massive country house in her will; but what Heather doesn't know is that she's also inherited the smelly psychopath who lives in the basement. This she learns the hard way, when Leatherface (Yeager) gatecrashes her housewarming party and starts slicing 'n' dicing everyone in the near vicinity.
Despite it being a modern horror movie with mobile phones and rap music, the look, feel and eccentricities of Texas Chainsaw 3D make it seem like an undiscovered New Line sequel left over from the 1990s. Which is handy, because Leatherface could use any sequel he can get, nowadays. Everything beyond the first Texas Chain Saw Massacre is casually discarded, from the immediate sequel (goodbye Dennis Hopper and Chop-Top) to the remake and its prequel. Texas Chainsaw 3D is the Superman Returns of horror movies.
This sequel picks up exactly where Hooper's original left off – Sally Hardesty escaped, Leatherface pirouetting himself into a frenzy with his chainsaw. Skipping to present day Texas, the first half of the film is disappointingly predictable. There are cameos from Gunnar Hansen and Bill Moseley, but fan service will only get you so far. Leatherface's chainsaw roars, the big man pushes a van over with his bare hands (not bad for a pensioner) and much blood is spilled before the film is even halfway through. But without his family, it just doesn't feel the same. The atmosphere of giggling lunacy is gone, replaced by roaring horror and torture. He's still an excellent villain, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has never been a one man show. The film could have done with Bill Moseley sticking around for more than his one measly scene. Heather and her friends are no match for the likes of Dennis Hopper and Ken Foree – she's an unsympathetic lead, her friends are annoying and dumb. Trey Songz, whoever or whatever that is, is awful as her boyfriend, and, playing a local cop, Steven Eastwood (son of Clint) proves that the apple falls very far from the tree indeed.
The second half of the film works better, spreading the scope from the constraints of the Sawyer mansion out into the surrounding town. Where the first half is dull and predictable, the second veers between inspired and stupid. A police officer uses FaceTime to document his hunt for Leatherface (face time, geddit), the town Mayor wears a Stetson and the slaughterhouse finale really puts the Saw into 'Chainsaw'. An attempt to turn Leatherface into a sympathetic antihero fails, due to the character having spent the past 80 minutes murdering everyone he can lay his hands on. Still, the action is great, Leatherface is on top form, and a scene set at the town carnival is a real highlight. It's certainly no Next Generation, that's for sure.
For all its sheen and innovation, it's revealing that the best thing in Texas Chainsaw 3D is the opening credits – a highlights reel from 1974. This interesting sequel isn't a disgrace, but it is a waste of a colourful cinematic heritage. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has one of the greatest sequels of all time. It just isn't this film.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10