Directed by John Luessenhop
Texas Chainsaw 3D is the first installment in a major horror franchise to reclaim itself from the Hollywood remake trend. In this case the filmmakers have ignored the god-awful “Platinum Duniverse” and used the Tobe Hooper original as a springboard for the return of Leatherface and the Sawyer (not Hewitt) clan. That’s a trend I hope to see in coming years as long as it’s executed to better effect. Sadly, despite every attempt to win back the fan base, this return trip to Texas isn’t any better.
After a 3D recap of the original, we pick up with the Sawyer clan moments after Sally Hardesty escaped the infamous dinner table finale at the end of Hooper’s classic. And while it’s cool to see the original house lovingly recreated, this attempt at an olive branch quickly spirals into fan service with ill-conceived cameos (Bill Moseley fills in for the late Jim Siedow while Gunnar Hanson plays a previously unseen member of the family). From there a Devil’s Rejects style firefight ensues with Texas police and town locals, resulting in every member of the Sawyer clan being wiped out – save for one baby.
Cut to modern day. We’re introduced to Heather (Daddario, whose character should be about 40 given that this film takes place present day), the grown-up adopted survivor who has matured into a sexy Goth chick who works in the grocery butcher section and makes morbid art from animal bones (insert collective groan here). After receiving word that she’s inherited an estate in the middle of Texas, she gathers together a group of stereotypes (Doomed Black Guy, Slutty McSlutwhore, and Nameless Red Shirt) on a road trip getaway to her brand new secluded mansion. But not before picking up a random hitchhiker and leaving him alone in the estate while they take off to get weekend party supplies.
TC3D is full of this kind of horror movie stupidity, where the characters are required by law to be as brain-dead as humanly possible in order to stay in danger. I realize the victims in Hooper’s classic weren’t exactly deep characters, but there was a rawness to them that made you fear for their lives. Here everything is chock-full of superficial Hollywood bullshit with chiseled WB teens and a bad hip-hop soundtrack in one of those mindless studio attempts to make Chainsaw appeal to the younger (i.e., dumbed down) generation.
The film is miscast from top to bottom, especially with regard to its antagonist, Leatherface (Yeager), now a balding, average-statured redneck who isn’t physically imposing in the slightest. While it’s not the case, it feels as if the filmmakers went down to the local dive bar, grabbed whatever random guy they could find and slapped a bad mask on him. Despite having KNB on makeup F/X duties, there’s nothing about his appearance or persona that distinguishes this version of Leatherface from the low-level imitations seen at your local haunted attraction every Halloween.
With flat direction by John Luessenhop, Texas Chainsaw 3D even wastes its central gimmick with boring, uninspired visuals the likes of a Syfy channel movie (if it weren’t for the title, this film would have never seen theater screens). The filmmakers even waste a potentially classic setpiece that sees Leatherface chasing our heroine through a crowded late night carnival. I was excited to see a chainsaw-fueled homage to Hooper’s Funhouse, or any other crazy visual scenario (a blood-drenched “Hall of Mirrors” or “Tunnel of Love”), but quickly realized I put more thought into this than the people making it. For most of the film’s runtime, everyone seems content to mine the same Texas Chainsaw formula we’ve seen time and time again.
Only in the home stretch does the script shake things up, with an unexpected twist that manages to change your sympathies. While it doesn’t change the sloppy execution that exists in every second of the ninety-minute runtime, you have to at least commend the writers for trying something different (something that can’t be said of the Platinum Dunes team). With a real genre director and better cast, it might have even worked.
But for all its good intentions, TC3D plays like a low-budget fan film and ultimately fails to redeem the franchise. Maybe turning this property into a franchise was the first big mistake. After Tobe Hooper’s goofy send-up sequel, it’s become more and more obvious that there’s nowhere left to go. Leatherface may be an icon, but several decades’ worth of attempts to bring him back have only resulted in tainted meat.
2 out of 5
- Andrew Lyall I love stuff like this, keep em coming!
- Dread Central I kind of need to read this now.
- One-Eye I had the game on the venerable Commodore64 and it was shit. I could just never figure out how to play it and I got killed every time.
- The One and Only One you might've missed was PREDATOR Vs. MAGNUS:ROBOT FIGHTER from 1993 that Dark Horse did with Valiant Comics. Fun two issue mini having Magnus fight a Predator in the Mile Spires of the 41st...
- Jason Pankoke RIP the "Hollywood" R/Greenberg. He went to school and taught at the University of Illinois where I live before moving to NYC and starting his first design firm. I have a souvenir book of an exhibit...
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE WORLD Review: A Chilling Look into the Human Psyche
Hall Joins Holbrook in Jim Mickle’s IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON
John Cho’s SEARCHING Finds New Trailer and Poster
Director Fede Alvarez on the Dread of THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB
IT FOLLOWS Writer and THIS IS AMERICA Director Team for MAN ALIVE
Bill Skarsgard on Stephen King’s IT: CHAPTER 2’s Adult Cast
Hollywood Science Fiction Museum Founder Arrested on Child Pornography Charges
Gender Bashing: Manly Spectacle in PREDATOR
New Stephen King Movie TRAPPED Announced by Richard Chizmar
FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME Gets Caught Up In Copyright Claim Lawsuit
Exclusive: This PREACHER Clip Ramps up the Spice!
E3 2018: BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL 2 Giving the Fans a Chance to Create
HEREDITARY – Interview with Writer-Director Ari Aster and the Cast
THE MIMIC – Exclusive Clip Introduces Us to The Girl
Dinosaurs Make Lousy Organ Donors in the TRIASSIC WORLD Trailer
News4 days ago
Remember CASTLEVANIA II: SIMON’S QUEST’s Controversial Nintendo Power Cover?
News6 days ago
Jamie Lee Curtis Did HALLOWEEN: H20 For the Paycheck
News4 days ago
Rob Zombie Says “Sh*t Gets Crazy!” in 3 FROM HELL
News5 days ago
RKSS’ Nostalgia Thriller SUMMER OF ’84 Lands Summer of ’18 Release Date
Reviews5 days ago
ZOMBIE 3 Blu-ray Review – The Combined Might Of Three Italian Gorehounds Makes For One Insane Adventure
News4 days ago
HEREDITARY Officially Box-Office Hit
News5 days ago
TALES FROM THE HOOD 2 Opens This Year’s Fantasia Film Fest
News6 days ago
ELIZABETH HARVEST Starring Abby Lee and Carla Gugino Hits This August