Leatherface has returned in a big way slashing his way to the top of the box office.
Lionsgate’s Texas Chainsaw 3D has raked in a whopping estimated $23 million proving that horror is king and that fans still want to see the Sawyer family in action.
Over the past few days we’ve been unveiling a slew of varied opinions, although Evan, Jonny and myself all seem to be in the same camp: we kinda liked it. You can read my take below, and watch this spot for news on a sequel in the next few months.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is synonymous with hardcore horror. It’s a franchise that has never played it safe – it went for the jugular and hit you with a flurry of gut-punches. There is nothing “fun” about any of them (except Bill Moseley as Chop-top in the 1986 Tobe Hooper-directed sequel). This is the inherent problem with Texas Chainsaw 3D, Lionsgate’s quasi-sequel that picks up immediately after Hooper’s 1974 classic left off; not only is it not brutal, it’s not fun either.
Directed by John Luessenhop, the TC3D opening credits begin with an astoundingly cool montage of moments from TCM that bring viewers up to speed on the legendary original film and its iconic killer, Leatherface. It picks up immediately after Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) escapes on the back of that pickup truck; she sends the police to the Sawyer house where a shootout kills the entire family… except a baby. Flash forward to present day where this baby, Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) is now a super sexy teenager (even though it has been 38 years) who doesn’t wear a bra and inherits the Sawyer mansion from a lost relative. What she doesn’t know is that she also inherits Leatherface.
The premise is genuinely cool, as it will not only be interesting to newcomers, but also gain the praise of hardcore horror fans. It was obvious since the casting announcements that the goal of the producing team was to first and foremost make the fans happy, an urge that shows onscreen with some loving nods to the original. But where they fail is in getting everything tonally in sync. Right after Leatheface is introduced, a bulk of the second act is spent investigating the shooting that took place in the beginning of the film. While Heather digs through police files, the film’s editing team attempts to inject some life by cross-cutting footage of a cop slowly working his way through the Sawyer house. Because we know what’s down there waiting for him, it’s not scary. At all.
There’s also a bland an attempt to villainize the locals, which comes off a bit trite, and turning Leatherface into an antihero is about as ill-advised as when the Predator teams with a human in Alien vs. Predator. There’s nothing scary about an iconic killer when you are sympathizing with them. This unusual turn of events may have worked better had it happened during the second act, instead of ending on that note.
This all bleeds back into the issue of tone. TC3D isn’t scary or brutal. While there’s plenty of blood, guts and gore, none of it is gritty – nothing makes your stomach curl (for example: having teeth knocked out or nails ripped off). In turn, it’s also not very fun. None of the characters are unique nor interesting, other than obviously wanting desperately to see the girls naked – which, by the way, doesn’t fucking happen.
Even if TCM3D were tonally in tune, it wouldn’t be well received. And the fact that it is ultimately a run-of-the-mill slasher means it’s basically only going to connect with hardcore TCM fans, whom are the only people I recommend see the film.