Everything may be bigger in Texas, but that’s little comfort to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. After 40 years, Tobe Hooper’s original low-budget horror movie remains a disturbing classic. Even Hooper’s belated sequel has earned a critical re-appraisal. And about that 2003 remake – it’s better than most fans are willing to admit. Nevertheless, most of the sequels and prequels have landed with a dull thud. Before French directors Julien Muary and Alexandre Bustillo (Inside) failed to resurrect the franchise with their Leatherface prequel, Lionsgate gave it a shot with Texas Chainsaw 3D. This is wasn’t just another sequel. No, it was a direct sequel to Hooper’s 1973 class that promised to clean up continuity problems and carve out a new direction for the franchise. Despite its early January release date, Texas Chainsaw 3D made some money. Unfortunately, no one liked it very much.
After Sally Hardesty escapes from the Sawyer clan, a vigilante mob shows up looking for justice. The ensuing shootout with the Sawyers and their extended family seemingly leaves all the murderous clan dead. But one of the townsfolk finds a survivor – an orphaned infant – that he and his wife secretly raise as their own. Years later, a now grown up Heather learns she was adopted when the late grandmother she’s never met leaves her a large Texas house as an inheritance. Hoping to connect with her true past, Heather, along with her boyfriend and friends, travel to claim the house. But somewhere in the basement a family secret is waiting for them.
Poor Screenplay Massacres Texas Chainsaw 3D
Texas Chainsaw 3D is a terminally stupid movie. In fact, this sort of reboot, sort of sequel, is stupid in mind-boggling ways. Consider for a moment that four people contributed to the story. When stupid characters doing stupid things is the least egregious sin, there’s a problem. The decision to start right where the 1973 movie ended was a good choice. However, things quickly go south when the movie inexplicably introduces extended Sawyer family members to serve as cannon fodder for stereotypical redneck vigilantes. Arguably, the sequel’s biggest problem, however, is its own timeline. Leatherface’s cousin, Heather, is clearly in her late teens, maybe early 20’s. Actress Alexandra Daddario (We Summon the Darkness) was about 27 years old at the time of filming. Regardless, Heather’s age would set the movie at in the 1990’s. Yet everything about the movie screams present day.
…the dialogue is embarrassing. Try not to cringe when Heather throws Leatherface his chainsaw and says, ‘Do your thing, cuz’.
Somewhere in the movie was a good idea. The decision to turn Leatherface into a ‘sympathetic monster’ facing a redneck mob had some potential. Yes, a cannibalistic, skin mask-wearing antihero was an uphill battle. Unfortunately, Texas Chainsaw 3D doesn’t do itself any favours. On one hand, the dialogue is embarrassing. Try not to cringe when Heather throws Leatherface his chainsaw and says, ‘Do your thing, cuz’. No character in the movie is remotely likable. And that includes the talented Daddario’s ‘Heather’. Throw in some lame allusions to ‘nature over nurture’ and this re-quel is past its expiration date.
Texas Chainsaw 3D Gruesome, But Adds Nothing New
If there’s a silver lining, director John Luessenshop includes some gruesome chainsaw gore. Maybe Leatherface could make a decent antihero in better movie. He does a good job here sawing stupid people in half or smashing in their heads with mallets. Luessenshop pays attention to the graphic details, and the effects are strong. While Tobe Hooper’s 1973 original was actually light on explicit gore, the sequels, prequels, and remakes have conformed to genre standards. Unfortunately, the sequel’s violence is hardly a redeeming factor. If you’ve watched the franchise movies, we’ve seen everything here in the past. Not even watching Leatherface stitch on a new face feels disturbing. We saw that in the 2003 remake.
Luessenshop cooks up a couple of decent jump scares. Still the sequel feels oddly lifeless.
What’s really missing from Texas Chainsaw 3D is atmosphere and tension. Luessenshop cooks up a couple of decent jump scares. Still the sequel feels oddly lifeless. There’s no real danger or subversiveness to what’s on screen. It’s a polished, technically proficient movie. Yet everything about the movie feels perfunctory. That is, Texas Chainsaw 3D skips from scene to scene, upping its body count wherever it can, while never feeling like it’s going anywhere. Sadly, the opening flashbacks to Hooper’s original are the most affecting moments in the entire movie.
Texas Chainsaw 3D Should Have Dropped More Than The ‘Massacre’
In a franchise defined by more low’s than high’s, Texas Chainsaw 3D was another misstep. If this re-quel was intended to kickstart more movies, it failed miserably. Too bad because the decision to make this entry a direct sequel – ignoring everything else – was smart. Just ask Blumhouse Productions; they made it work five years later with Halloween. And there’s some decent chainsaw gore and jumps in what’s at least a quick-paced movie. But Texas Chainsaw 3D is an unforgivably stupid movie. Cringe-worthy dialogue, a lack of logic, and a failed attempt at turning Leatherface into a sympathetic ‘monster’ doom this sequel. If there’s any consolation for this sequel, it’s that it still isn’t the worst movie in the franchise.