You know that the ongoing cycle of horror remakes has reached the “snake eats its own tail” point when the reboots are getting rebooted. That’s exactly what has happened with Texas Chainsaw 3D: it ignores the original cycle of sequels to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as well as the remake and prequel that Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes hack-remake factory concocted during the mid-2000’s. The producers have pitched it to horror fans as a “direct sequel” to Tobe Hooper’s classic – and what they have spawned might be the most aggressively moronic and unintentionally hilarious product of the modern horror remake/reboot cycle.
True to the producer’s word, Texas Chainsaw 3D starts exactly where the 1974 original left off… and that’s where the problems begin. Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is being pursued by local deputy Hooper (Thom Barry) and goes to hide out at a previously unseen house owned by another entire wing of the Sawyer family that was never referenced in the first film. A redneck vigilante posse led by Burt Hartman (Paul Rae) horns in on the scene, torching the place and spraying it with gunfire. Leatherface secretly escapes and all the Sawyers die except for an infant that is spirited away to be raised as an adopted child by two members of the lynch mob.
Cut to the modern day, where said infant has grown up into Heather (Alexandra Daddario). She gets a surprise letter that informs her she was a member of the Sawyer clan – and a wealthy aunt has just kicked the bucket, leaving her with a lovely mansion in the sticks. She takes a road trip with boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz), best girlfriend Nicki (Tania Raymonde) and her friend’s current beau, Daniel (Shaun Sipos). Of course, Leatherface is skulking in the shadows and soon commences a game of Kill The Young Adult. However, once Heather escapes, she discovers the surrounding town is very protective of its Sawyer-murdering past.
The script for Texas Chainsaw 3D is credited to Adam Marcus (of Jason Goes To Hell infamy), Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms but it is so disjointed and logic-impaired that it seems like it was written by several people, none of whom were in agreement about how the story is supposed to work. As many have noted, the film’s sense of timelines is wildly off the mark: this film is set in 2012 and the original was released in 1974… and yet we are asked to believe our heroine, who should be around 38 by that timeline, is somehow in her early-to-mid 20’s. Leatherface is also amazingly nimble and fast for someone who should be in his 60’s.
The one thing the film’s writers all seemed to agree on is that its characters must act like idiots at all times to fulfill the plot’s contorted twists: for example, Heather is given a letter by her aunt’s lawyer when she enters the house and told to read it as soon as she can. Of course, she immediately sets it aside and we later learn the instructions it provides could have curtailed most of the tragedy that occurs.
Also, there’s a hilarious exposition-download scene that require the sheriff’s office to leave the victim of a coverup for several minutes with a set of files that reveal all the wrongdoings of the conspirators. There’s even a scene where the heroine trips over herself – twice – while trying to get away from Leatherface and then tries to hide from him in a coffin laid out right in front of him. Without getting into too many spoilers, the film’s third act asks the heroine to completely disregard the murder of several friends to push a lame, Rob Zombie-esque “monsters are just misunderstood” twist on the audience.
Even if you’re the stubborn type of horror fan who refuses to acknowledge such basic storytelling problems, Texas Chainsaw 3D is still a surprisingly dull and inept piece of work. Director John Luessenhop, whose most recent work was the similarly dull and inept heist film Takers, brings paciness to his work but little style or enthusiasm. There is a decent amount of gore and shocks but he brings to macabre flair to staging such moments, with even the “in your face” 3D bits coming off in a predictable and workmanlike manner.
The performances don’t help either. Daddario is vacant as a lead here: she yells a lot near the end but does her frequently-bared midriff is more compelling than her performance. Her cast of pals blends into the woodwork with the exception of Raymonde, who creates one of the more annoying and strident “best friend” characters in a recent horror film. Rae and Barry struggle with lame characterizations and Texas Chainsaw legacies Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan and Marilyn Burns are thrown in for pointless cameos designed to sucker horror fans into watching. The best work comes from Richard Riehle as the lawyer: his calm competence is an oasis in a sea of bad acting.
In short, Texas Chainsaw 3D is a disaster and easily one of the worst films ever to top the American weekend box office charts. Like all too many horror remakes and reboots, it’s a mercenary piece of work devoid of any real love or understanding of its genre.