Seven years after New Line and Platinum Dunes had their way with the Chainsaw franchise we are now subject to a Liongate attempt, which means a shorter title and added 3D. John Luessenhop‘s Texas Chainsaw 3D sounds like the furthest thing from quality for a series that has really only had one or two good entries, yet underneath the generic first act and the poorly-done CGI in the third act, the film manages to endure and come out on the other end. I’m not going to claim that Texas Chainsaw 3D is a particularly good piece of horror filmmaking, but it’s far from bad and actually throws around a few ideas that I wouldn’t mind seeing more of.
Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) is an outcast. She’s got a mother and father, but she recently learned that she was adopted and that her real grandmother just passed. So, she gets her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) and a couple of friends to go down to Texas and checkout her new estate in hopes of learning a bit more about her family’s history. It’s an ill-advised trip, because she quickly learns of her family’s rotted past, which includes a chainsaw-wielding cross-dresser named Jed (also commonly known as Leatherface) that was supposed to be dead, along with the rest of her bloodline.
This is of course a Chainsaw film, which means Leatherface is most certainly alive and still causing terror and wearing dudes faces whenever he pleases. What makes Texas Chainsaw 3D slightly different than previous entries is that it deals with the whole disturbing idea on a more personal level. Instead of simply viewing Leatherface as the twisted killer, who then goes on to kill just about everyone (that’s no spoiler if you’ve ever watched a horror movie), director John Luessenhop gives us a lesson in family values and just how thick that warm red stuff really is.
I can’t come out and say that Texas Chainsaw 3D proposes a brilliant new idea or a fresh story for this now-tired franchise to get kick-started back up again, but when viewing everything that was stacked against this film I can firmly say that I liked it. Just how much you ask? Well, I’m still chewing on it. On one part there’s enough evenly placed kills to keep virtually any horror fan at bay, but then there’s the painful opening.
By painful I mean not a single character is written past a couple of lines. There’s the boyfriend, the slutty best friend and the boyfriend’s buddy that’s just hooked up with the slut. What they don’t cover in stereotypes the hitchhiker that they pick up does. None of these characters are annoying past the normal point of just waiting for them to die, but not once do they even try remotely to establish themselves as part of the bigger picture.
There’s just Heather, Leatherface and a few other resurfacing characters. And that actually works in the film’s favor for a good portion, because the focus is completely on Heather and her bloody family reunion.
The gore in the film doesn’t top The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, but there are a few brutal sequences involving the trusty chainsaw. It’s just too bad that they cop out towards the end and use a lot of horribly done CGI. I’m not sure why they had the change of heart, but the beginning of the film is much more practical-based. The kills aren’t even innovative or original, but they do bring back a certain ugliness that I remember from the original film and some of its offspring’s. The tone is definitely there.
I mentioned earlier that the family dynamic works well and it does. Somewhere a little past the halfway mark the film shifts gears from your basic generic slasher to something a little more ambitious. It’s predictable for Chainsaw fans and anyone really, unless you were expecting this film to be a one-off, but I enjoyed just how far they took it. I can’t indulge too heavily, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about once you see it. And you should see it, because it’s so much better than those awful trailers suggest.
Most of the general response has been fairly negative and I get that, because Texas Chainsaw 3D isn’t at all necessary. But if somebody had to make it I’m glad John Luessenhop did, because he took what was already known as an iconic horror character and he added a tiny bit more to the family puzzle. He didn’t make a beat-for-beat remake and he certainly didn’t make a film that focused only on the body count. He met us somewhere in the middle and gave us a look at Leatherface’s roots, while also dropping in the blood and limbs.
Chainsaw fans most-likely have their minds already made up about this one and that’s fine. There’s no arguing against Tobe Hooper‘s original, but if you’re willing to accept another entry without comparing it to the others than by all means give this one a go. I was dreading seeing it, yet I walked out of the theater mostly liking it. The things I disliked were things I had already expected and things that never held the film down for too long.
Texas Chainsaw 3D – 7/10