STARRING Alexandra Daddario, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde, Trey Songz, Richard Riehle, Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns DIRECTED BY John Luessenhop SCREENPLAY Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel (Characters), Stephen Susco, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan (Story), Debra Sullivan, Adam Marcus and Kirsten Elms (Screenplay) MPAA RATING Rated R RUNNING TIME 92 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY DIA Productions GmbH & Co. KG
"Texas Chainsaw 3D" Is More a Film for True Devotees
I've been sitting here trying to resist the urge to use this opening line for my Texas Chainsaw 3D review - It's better than sex. With me.
It's not that sex with me is bloody or awful. It's not that I take a chainsaw to bed, though I might be willing to have that conversation. It's more that, much like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, sex with me could best be described as an acquired taste that simply may not be worth acquiring.
That might be low self-esteem, but it makes me laugh. So, I'm going with it.
For fans of Tobe Hooper's 1974 original, the last couple of Michael Bay-produced efforts have been nothing short of cinematic sacrilege. The Platinum Dunes produced films basically killed off the series. However, if there's one thing we've learned about the horror world it's that nothing is truly dead.
Or maybe that's the Hollywood world? I get confused.
Either way, director John Luessenhop is helming what's being billed as a direct sequel to Hooper's 1974 original film rather than anything even remotely related to the Platinum Dunes high-tech crapola. The film kicks off with converted 3-D footage from Hooper's classic followed by the revelation that the Sawyer family, led by Leatherface, had been burned alive by a vigilante crowd. Flash forward to present day and a young woman (Alexandra Daddario) has arrived in this Texas town to check out her unexpected inheritance from her grandmother. As we might well expect, she shows up with her hottie friends (Trey Songz, Tania Raymonde and Keram Malicki-Sanchez). In a nod to the original that most devotees will recognize, they pick up a hitchhiker (Shaun Sipos) along the way.
The role of Leatherface has been taken over by Dan Yeager, though devotees of the Texas Chainsaw series may rejoice that a couple familiar faces from the original film make an appearance here. In fact, it's one of those things that both helps and hinders the film - Luessenhop seems so aware of the cinematic roots that he's trying to maintain that the film occasionally feels awkward and uneven in terms of pacing and its attempts at a cohesive story. In terms of how successful the film is, it actually feels a lot like the later Saw films when the producers inexplicably returned to storytelling rather than simply gore for the sake of gore. While the last couple of Texas Chainsaw films have made feeble attempts at an updating, this film genuinely seems interested in creating a modestly compelling story to go along with its far more compelling horrors.
Luessenhop and his team of writers concoct a bit of twist towards film's end that tries, with at least a bit of success, to make Leatherface a wee bit more of a sympathetic character. Will it work for you? Will you even notice or care?
Hardcore fans of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, myself included, definitely won't consider this a genuine return to the land of sentimental cannibalism and men of many faces but it is a far grittier and far more effective Texas Chainsaw reboot than you might expect. Luessenhop directed the surprise modest hit Takers, and he does a decent enough job of reverently acknowledging Hooper's original while updating this new film "just enough" and capitalizing on both a far greater budget and significantly advanced technology. There's some dark humor in the film, including a few references to the original film, that will likely fly over the heads of more casual moviegoers while sending chills down the spines of true devotees.
Brilliant cinema? Nope. Horrifically guilty pleasure? You could very well say that.
Daddario doesn't prove herself to be a brilliant actress here, but how brilliant of an actress is she really needed to be? She redeems herself quite nicely, serving up a performance that makes the film's final thirty minutes even more of an effective choice. Among the supporting players, Thom Barry and Paul Rae shine most brightly. Dan Yeager, filling the mighty shoes of Gunnar Hansen, is quite effective as the bigger and badder than life Leatherface.
To his credit, Luessenhop is fairly restrained with his use of 3-D technology. While there's no question the film is in 3-D, Luessenhop seems to focus more on suspense and chills rather than throwing body parts and blood at the screen. Texas Chainsaw 3D isn't likely gory enough to please true gorehounds, but most fans of market-friendly horror should be more than a little happy with this flawed yet entertaining diversion from the sea of awards-worthy films currently flooding the box-office.