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Texas Chainsaw 3D
Calling itself, insultingly I think, the “true sequel” to the first movie, Texas Chainsaw 3D wasn’t quite the movie I expected it to be but that ends up being both good and bad.
The movie starts by bringing back some of the classic Texas Chainsaw cast to do cameos in 1974 and have a shootout that burns down the house but leaves two survivors: Leatherface, and a baby girl stolen by one of the town “heroes.” This is supposed to somehow legitimize what the director and the screenwriters will do in the rest of the movie, but it’s also so they can rewrite the plotline of the first movie to shoehorn their version into the canon (and cut the films that followed out at the same time.)
Fast forward to 2012, ignoring the fact that if the house burned in 1974, twenty years should be 1994, and the stolen baby should be in her thirty’s, not her twenties. This is the first in a long line of missteps and was a big clue as to how the rest of the movie would go.
Regardless of the time skipping, Alexandra Daddario turns in a fine performance as Heather, the stolen Sawyer baby. She works in a supermarket meat department and makes bone artwork in her apartment, where she lives with her boyfriend Ryan, who’s most intelligent line is that he loves the “crazy birthmark” on the upper curve of her breast. This is supposed to be a clue for all those too dumb to figure it out that she’s the lost Sawyer baby, but since this is a concept that’s been used to death, along with the burn mark that (gasp) matches the charm all the Sawyer women wear, it just ends up being annoying. Why this ghost story trope makes an appearance here, I’m not quite sure, but it’s quickly followed by another: a letter telling Heather she’s inherited a house in Texas from her recently deceased gramma, who she knew nothing about. She drops her plans for Halloween in New Orleans and takes her friends on a roadtrip to Texas, where the audience knows all sorts of bad shit will happen.
The first part of the film plays out like the other Texas Chainsaw movies and a lot like slasher films in general. People vanish, the rest of the cast comments on the disappearance and just keep going as if nothing important actually happened.
Texas Chainsaw 3D had an interesting chance to make a good movie if they’d only not been so insistent on using Leatherface as the real villain. The town of Newt well remembers the Sawyers and the incident in 1974, and some of the townsfolk aren’t so happy to see a Sawyer returning to their town. I wondered why Vera didn’t die in the fire with the rest of her family, you know, like the movie said everyone did . . . I also wondered how she built this palatial mansion where her ramshackle house used to be. Did the townsfolk feel bad and give her money to build a mansion as reparations? The movie ignores such details and expects that you will as well.
There are a lot of other sins to be paid for in Texas Chainsaw 3D. Leatherface doesn’t bother to vary his killing techniques at all; it’s the same old hammer to the head and meat hook hanging, or chainsaw across the belly that we’ve seen before. One new or interesting kill isn’t really so much to ask for.
This movie has nothing original or interesting to say about Leatherface. They try to make him sympathetic, which is quite hard to pull off, because a hulking slasher and suspected cannibal isn’t someone most people feel sorry for. It really makes you wonder if the people who made this movie actually watched the first one at all.
And the one interesting plot point that they do have, they bungle completely. Leatherface and Heather are kin, so he won’t kill her, he’ll actually protect her from the townspeople who are trying to kill her for being a Sawyer. Of course, Leatherface chops up Heather’s friends at the beginning of the film and tries to kill her as well, so the family connection shouldn’t really mean anything at all to her. But for some damned reason it does.
The ending scenes throw what little sense this movie had right into the slaughterhouse grinder. Even assuming that Heather doesn’t hate Leatherface for killing her friends (they were kind of annoying after all) there’s no way in Hell that she should just move into the house with him and keep the whole Sawyer family going.
Ultimately, this movie may end up the most hated in the franchise, finally knocking “A New Beginning” from the perch it held for so long. Maybe movie people should do what those young people wish they’d done with Leatherface and just leave him alone in his house with his saw and his family.