Directed by John Luessenhop, Starring Alexandra Daddario
A heartwarming tale about how family conquers all, and about how Leatherface was just a misunderstood special needs kid the whole time, Texas Chainsaw 3D is an incompetent and tone-deaf January horror film, made all the worse by the fact that, conceptually, the idea to make Leatherface a sympathetic character with a tragic past is not awful.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the original slasher movies, and arguably the first big success in the genre. It had a villain, Leatherface, who killed people with chainsaws. That was all you knew about him, and that was all you really needed to know. This movie proposes a few bold ideas, all of which have absolutely no precedence anywhere in the franchise, but it adds up to an interesting concept: Leatherface is a big family man, and his entire family was completely wiped out in an arson attack from some townsmen. He did not mentally age beyond age 8, and his one living relative took care of him all this time. Some stupid teenagers visit the house, and Leatherface wants revenge on the people who killed his family.
This plot point would have been more effective if it were executed in any way. Leatherface kills the teenagers because killing teenagers is what he does, and he gets a chance at revenge in the last ten minutes almost by accident, as the arsonists use a teenager to lure him to a meat factory. The screenplay, written by a team of people whose credits consist of nothing but 0 budget horror movies, seems to have no idea what its endgame is until it happens. The story pitch is solid, but nobody working on the production knew how to convey that pitch within the writing, and as it exists, the lines are a confused mess.
I’m sure that the defenders of the film will argue that the movie wasn’t trying to be frightening because the audience is supposed to be in support of Leatherface, but it is not frightening. Loud digital noises and buckets of blood are used ad nauseum, which is standard for the lazy, crappy horror flicks of today. The whole movie reeks of excess. The gore is so overabundant in some scenes that it makes it annoying to watch, not because of the gruesome imagery, but because this light, simplistic movie resorts to massive blood splatters in order to seem more legit. The major set pieces are all underwhelming because of this, along with choppy editing and horrible directing of extras (at one point, Leatherface chases Alexandra Daddario into a carnival, with his chainsaw running, and about 70% of the people at the carnival either do not notice or are not startled by a man with a chainsaw wearing a human face as a mask. It was admittedly funny to watch these people show no emotion to being within fifty feet of a slasher, but it reinforces the idea that you’re not supposed to take this version of Leatherface seriously).
Everything else is as bad as everybody knows it is. The acting is terrible, whether from capable hands (Alexandra Daddario, original Leatherface Gunnar Hansen) or from obviously inept ones (Trey Songz’s film debut). Watching in two dimensions on a small screen, I did not experience the 3D effects in the way that they were meant to be seen, but I can tell you that every time what was clearly supposed to be a 3D effect popped up, severe motion blur destroyed any tension that waving a chainsaw out of the screen might have had. The soundtrack is heavy on jumps and synths, in lieu of any interesting or potentially iconic compositions. The characters are lazy recreations of the same archetypes that have been beaten to death over the last few decades. The lasting impression left by Texas Chainsaw 3D is no impression, because it fails to justify its existence at any point. It’s just not worth anyone’s time.