After watching the original MASSACRE the other day, I followed with the new release TEXAS CHAINSAW IN 3D. This marked my first 2013 release watched, and my first 3D movie in a couple of years. I’m just not a huge fan of the format. But, we had our employee gathering last night and this was the movie we decided to put on. I was in the mindset to see something which would try to live up to the pacing and relatively high standard set by the original. While this is the 7th movie made in the series, this is the first one to pick up in the hours after the 1974 version ended.
I watched TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D (2013) on 1.3.13. It was my first viewing of the film.
This film starts with the townfolk descending on the Sawyer house in the hours after the events of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE occurred. The people of the town unleash their fury, killing most everyone in the house. An infant survives, and a young couple decide to take the baby as their own.
At this point, roughly ten minutes in, I was thinking that this might be good. They had the 1973 look down, and the opening was a nice revisit of the original film followed by a serviceable, if clichéd, opening sequence. I thought that this had the potential to get on its horse and just go. It could drag me along for an hour and a half and keep me entertained.
Then we jump to the present. Well, I should qualify that. I assumed we jumped to roughly 1995, because the grown-up infant looked to be about 22. Actress Alexandra Daddario is, in reality, 26. So even at that age, or jumping her to 30, we would be looking at a film set in 2000. The costumes in this film made me think we were in the 90s. But the gas prices (in the mid to high $3.00s), the Face-Time aps on the smart phones, and the digital map on the wall of the police station showing the real-time location of all squad cars? That stuff all looks very 2012 (well, 2013 now I suppose).
So are we to believe that this young girl is actually 40? I suppose it doesn’t matter. What irked me mightily was how little this movie cared to address any of it. The producers, director, and editor all just assumed their audience was too dumb to notice or too unsophisticated to do a little math.
But that’s not what I had a problem with most. I think it is important to point out in the sense that it shows how little care went into the creation of this film. But it’s not what irks me most by a longshot.
The moral compass of this film is shattered. The point, it seems, is to make sure that Leatherface is a hero by film’s end. Think of that. He slaughtered some kids four decades ago. He slaughters more people here. And by the end of this film, we are supposed to be on his side. We are supposed to understand. A sheriff does something at the end of this film which will make your jaw drop with its stupidity.
The funny thing is that so much time goes into paying homage to the first film. The opening sequence, rendered in 3D, picks some absolute highlights from the first film. The battle at the homestead which follows shows some nice attention to detail. Both Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns (the original Leatherface and Sally) make cameos. Heck, the roadkill armadillo even gets featured for a moment. The filmmakers seem to have real reverence for the first movie.
So why did they go and screw it up so bad? The first film is a horror film with a truly terrifying villain. This film says its ok to slaughter people. I’m tempted to bring up the fact that the name of the town is Newt (very close to Newtown) and the killer goes rampaging through a fair ground filled with kids trying to kill someone with his chainsaw. And later that guy becomes our hero. That’s not a really fair criticism to levy since this film was obviously made before the tragedy in Newton, but it certainly points to the level of ambivalence this film has towards morality. Before they tried to turn Leatherface into a good guy, I thought this movie merely was weak. Once they made that choice, it went into the land of horrible.
This is a movie which also exploits its lead female, Heather, to an absurd degree. She can’t find a shirt that fits her. She is constantly shot from an angle which looks down her cleavage. After her shirt gets bloody, she is given a button-down by someone else. Of course, she only has time to button two buttons, ensuring that she has to run around like that for twenty minutes before a bad guy (not Leatherface, he is good at this point) rips her shirt open to dangle her from some chains. This is all, of course, so that Leatherface can recognize the scar over her breast and become a sympathetic character who saves the girl.
God this movie sucks.
For once, I’m not complaining about morally bankrupt victims in a horror film. While these characters make some poor choices, they aren’t completely bad people (until Heather’s boyfriend and best friend get it on before being attacked). The acting isn’t brutal, even if it is not inspired. But the script was headed in a bad direction from the moment they went modern, and it never recovered.
Can I say anything good? I liked the opening, as I said. The 3D wasn’t terrible, save for one moment with the chainsaw going through a coffin. I thought some of the chases were good, and the victims were constantly getting tripped up and getting smacked down by the elements around them (a failed attempt to drive through a gate is, possibly, the most realistic moment in the film). This is counter-balanced by characters who have never seen a horror movie before, so they wander into dark corridors yelling the names of people they think might be down there.
Oh, one highlight involves a moment with a freezer which serves as the most startling moment of the film AND as a nice recall to the original movie. Of course, the scene leading up to that moment was one of the worst scenes in any horror movie ever. It involved an officer using his phone to chat with the mayor and sheriff via Skype or FaceTime (or some such thing) as he investigated a house where he suspected Leatherface was hiding. He walks around, talking. The light of the phone certainly making it impossible to see into the darkness. Spoiler alert. This cop dies.
The Sheriff (Thom Barry) in this is well-played, but he is horribly written. He talks about how he is powerless to do anything. He fails to arrest people who have clearly committed a crime on three separate occasions at least. In another allusion to the first film he is Sheriff Hooper. Clearly, though, he doesn’t have the balls of the real Tobe Hooper.
Why am I writing so much about this movie? God it sucks.
FILM: 1; MOVIE: 4; ACTING: 4; WRITING: 0
I can’t even give this movie a single point for writing. 497 movies in, and that is nearly unprecedented in the history of this blog.
FINAL SCORE: 2.25