Texas Chainsaw 3D is not (I repeat, not) a remake of the 1974 original. A lot of fuss has been made in recent years about the incessant assembly line of film remakes spewing out of Hollywood. I would take this argument one step further. You see, I’m not a big fan of taking culturally significant images, films, books, and ideas (in general) and bastardizing them for the sake of making money off an existing fan base. When the creative folks involved can evolve the story line, the characters, and bring something fresh and new to the existing work, then yes! By all means, yes. But in the case of this recent attempt to introduce Leatherface to a new generation … no. No. No. No. Not like this.
While it unseated The Hobbit during its opening weekend, Texas Chainsaw 3D’s popularity is sure to wane in the weeks following as word begins to spread that the film happens to illicit more laughter than scares. While the opening title sequence got this viewer’s hopes up, beautifully blending scenes from Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the credits for the film, all my fears were then realized over the course of the next 97 minutes. And not in a good way.
Texas Chainsaw 3D finds one of the last remaining blood relatives of the Sawyer clan, now adopted by a couple who helped a lynch mob kill the bulk of her family back in the 70s, inheriting the assets and estate of a grandmother she has never known. Heather (played by Alexandra Daddario), also known as Edith Rose Sawyer, currently working in the meat department of a grocery store, heads to Texas to finalize the estate with the family attorney. One thing is certain at this point. It ain’t never a good idea to just casually roll into Texas. Especially if y’all are a Sawyer.
With a tangle of friends in tow, including her two-timing boyfriend, Heather quickly learns what it means to be a Sawyer in Newt, TX. When a vagrant, to whom the group has given a lift, pilfers Heather’s new found estate for silver and goodies, he unwittingly stumbles upon Jed. That’s right. OldLeatherface. Heather’s cousin and last surviving blood relative, also the perpetrator of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre mayhem, has been living in the basement behind a fortified door. Family bound to protect his kin, Leatherface unleashes hell on all who have stepped inside the Sawyer estate. His rampage is relentless and merciless.
As Heather tries in vain to get the local sheriff to help her, the sinister dark truth about the town’s role in the murder of her family comes to light. With the truth exposed, the town’s mayor (a man who was pivotal in the events that left most of her family dead) has Heather kidnapped and taken to the town’s slaughterhouse. Expecting to tie up her “loose end”, the mayor arrives at the slaughterhouse moments after Leatherface, who is there, presumably, to do the same thing. Only, upon seeing the scar tissue of a burn injury Heather had sustained the night of her family’s killing, Leatherface recognizes the shape, a large “S” within a circle, as the family emblem worn by the Sawyer women on necklaces. He makes the connection. This is is long-lost cousin, Edith Rose, and he cuts her free.
With the help of one of his many lackeys, the mayor barges in on Leatherface in this moment of tender family reunion and brings him to the brink of his imminent demise. Heather has only moments to decide … is blood really thicker than water?
I wish I could say that Texas Chainsaw 3D doesn’t flounder from beginning to end. I wish I could say that Texas Chainsaw 3D is the sequel I’ve been waiting for. I wish I could say that Texas Chainsaw 3D makes amazing and effectual use of the 3D technology and that I encourage you to go out and spring for the upgraded ticket, to experience it in the theaters. But I can’t.
Outside of the brilliantly conceived and executed title sequence, there is little offered here that will surprise you, excite you, or better still, scare you. After all, it’s like Mike Ryan (of The Huffington Post) so eloquently puts it: “It’s hard to be scared when you don’t really care what happens to the characters”.
The filmmaker’s attempts to make Leatherface a sympathetic character are absolutely baffling. Leatherface, simple minded or otherwise, is a homicidal, human-flesh-mask-wearing psychopath who kills people with a chainsaw. No audience, anywhere, should be asked to sympathize with that.