WRETCHED REVIEWS: TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D
Starring Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, and Tania Raymonde
Directed by John Luessenhop
Written by Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms
Nearly 40 years after its release, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is no longer “just” a horror classic. It is a brand, with the direct sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D, out today, just the latest iteration in a line of sequels, prequels, and remakes. The fact that this new Chainsaw manages to draw fresh blood makes it all the more impressive because, really, who thought this might actually be good?
Percy Jackson & The Olympians co-star Alexandra Daddario leaves behind the sterility of that tween franchise to play Heather, a young woman who inherits an estate in Texas from a grandmother (Marilyn Burns, original Chainsaw) she never knew. Together with some friends (including singer Trey Songz as her boyfriend Ryan), she travels down to Newt, Texas, and discovers something sinister going on in the town, not limited to who might be lurking behind the steel door in her new basement.
Texas Chainsaw (producers dropped “Massacre” from the title in the wake of the movie theatre shooting last summer in Aurora, Colorado) is a direct prequel to the original film, set years later. So, yes, we get an older Leatherface (played here by the mountainous Dan Yeager) and we get answers to what happened after the skin mask-wearing hulk let Sally (Burns) escape his clutches (told in an opening sequence that casts TCM 2 veteran Bill Moseley as Drayton “The Cook” Sawyer, filling in for the late Jim Siedow). But giving away more of the plot would spoil what modest surprises the film has in store.
Let us be clear: no, this film is not nearly as terrifying as the first TCM, although it does have its share of peril-induced frights. And, yes, it does think that gore (something its direct predecessor mostly eschewed) equals horror. It also falls prey to the modern diseases of casting impossibly pretty young actors (Daddario and her flat stomach included) and exhibiting stupid horror movie logic (albeit perhaps parodied here with a sequence in which a police officer explores the Sawyer place at the behest of his superior, despite our knowing that Leatherface is just around the corner). Even the 3D seems to exist merely to let the filmmakers throw a chainsaw at the audience.
But… all that said, TC 3D is fun. Producers pay due respect to the original, casting Burns, Moseley, John Dugan (Grandpa Sawyer in the original, reprising that role here) and even original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen in cameos. But, most importantly, they treat the franchise with respect, even managing to imbue it with a modicum of emotional resonance by giving Leatherface motivation. In this way, the overgrown, homicidal adolescent takes his place beside Frankenstein’s creature in a heaven populated by misunderstood monsters. And Daddario, as our final girl, exhibits much of the same pluck that carried Caroline Williams through to the end of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986).
While this film may have been made with more than the usual degree of cynical motives – i.e. to exploit a well-known title to maximize first weekend box office – the end result is a worthy addition to the franchise, and is far from the worst in the series. (I’m looking at you, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.)
Indeed, Texas Chainsaw 3D makes the cut.