The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is, like any other big horror franchise, riddled with its fair share of really bad entries. I don’t care what anyone says, TCM 3 and TCM: A New Beginning are awful. You can’t convince me otherwise. TCM 2 is charming and entertaining in its own way and while I’m not a huge fan of the remake it took the original concept and did its own thing, which I can admire.
But now we’ve entered Texas Chainsaw 3D, the first time a TCM movie has billed itself as a “direct sequel”, one that takes the story and events of the first film and expands upon the story. And what you end up with is a fun, if somewhat ridiculous, film that has some very interesting moments.
Warning: There are some spoilers in this review, so be warned.
The film opens up with, what I think, is a fantastic opening credits sequence. Clips from the original TCM have been used to give a very quick update on the story thus so far. Once we see original survivor Sally Hardesty escape, the film truly begins with police coming up to the Sawyer/Drayton house, demanding Jed (Leatherface). What could have been a peaceful handoff is disrupted by a local posse showing up and opening fire upon the house, killing everyone except for Leatherface and, ultimately, a little baby girl. Long story short, the baby is taken (have fun with the ridiculous dialogue during this scene) and that baby grows up to be the heroine of our film, Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario).
By now you probably know the story, but here’s a very quick summary: Heather Miller finds out that she is adopted when her recently deceased grandmother (whom she has never heard of nor met) bequeaths to her the Sawyer Estate. Heather, along with a few friends and a (pointless and could’ve been rewritten as a 5th friend) drifter, go to Texas to see the estate. Leatherface gets out and, well, so begins the killing.
So let me get some of the technical aspects out of the way real quick. The 3D wasn’t actually all that bad. Instead of a ton of “in your face” moments, the 3D was more immersive. Yes, there are a few parts that are specifically meant for the 3D to get a chance to brag, but they are placed in good moments and are effectively utilized.
A complaint I had was that the movie was a bit dark at points. Not the kind of dark where “I think I see something but I’m not sure if it’s there,” but rather the “What is this? FearDotCom?” kind of dark. Also, the music of the film was rather uninspiring. If I were asked to hum even three notes of any of the cues or be shot, there’d be a big hole in my head right about now.
One of the more annoying aspects of the film was the camera’s constant need to hover right around the derrieres of Daddario and co-star Tania Raymonde. Look filmmakers, I know they’re sexy and very attractive but I don’t need their asses shoved in my face every chance you get.
Also, there was a complete lack of character development for Keram Malicki-Sánchez’s Kenny and Tremaine Neverson’s Ryan, who is the boyfriend of Miller. Oh, sorry. Ryan is explained to have slept once with Tania Raymonde and this means that, of course, they’ll sleep together again. Because, you know, once a guy cheats, he’s gonna cheat again without a second thought. Ugh…
A glaring error in the film is the timeframe. The original film took place in 1974. This film takes place in late 2012. Using a little bit of math, Heather should be 38 years old. Trust me when I say that she is NOT 38. So, in an effort to ignore this little detail, the year of the opening scene slaughter is never revealed. In fact, great pains are taken to ensure that we, the viewer, are never given that information. For all we know, it could’ve taken place in 1997. The year is blacked out in crime scene photos. The grave of Heather’s mother has wild grass perfectly placed over the year of death. It’s not something major but it’s one of those little details that made me want to look at the screen and say, “Really? You really think I’m that stupid?”
However, something that this entry did that none of the other entries have done is turn Leatherface into something of an anti-hero. For the first time, Leatherface is not simply a villain. Instead, he becomes someone that we actively cheer for.
I didn’t really know what I was expecting going into the film. I knew that I wanted to see bodies chopped up with a chainsaw and, for that, I wasn’t disappointed. When it comes to the story, there were some needless twists and turns that could’ve been written a bit more solidly had someone simply thought for two seconds. But, in the end, I found myself having a good time. It’s a great popcorn flick that has gore aplenty and several laugh out loud moments that make it a great way to pass 90 minutes.