‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ Review
It is every 16 year-old's rite of passage to sneak into an R-rated slasher, get grossed out by blood, turned on by boobs and shout back at the screen. To that end, 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is a worthy claimant to the franchise.
For those new to the series, or those with only hazy memories of watching a washed-out VHS of Tobe Hooper's low-budget 1974 sensation, 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' this new one opens with a nice recap of the original. Finally, a chance to see Teri McMinn's red shorts in 3D! The story rolls along in quick cuts until Leatherface's final spin in the middle of the country road. . .then continues.
We see a lynch mob pull up to the Sawyer house and burn it down, but not before a newborn baby girl is plucked from the clutches of a dying hick and handed to a different hick who, I dunno, decides in the middle of gunning down cannibals he'd really like to care for a child.
Fast-forward twenty-something years (even though the movie is closing in on 40) and that young girl is grocery store clerk/conceptual artist Alexandria Daddario. Ms. Daddario, whose shirts are loose and billowy at the bottom yet quite form-fitting up top, has just discovered that she's adopted. She and her attractive young friends ditch a road trip to New Orleans for Newt, Texas and a giant, stately home that's now hers.
In addition to the pool tables and horse stables there is, of course, a monster in the basement -it's Leatherface! The murderous beast who wears a mask of human flesh and wants to kill Kill KILL!
Ostensibly, he wants revenge on those who harmed his family (the leader of which is now the mayor) but his primary purpose is to lumber around, tear up flesh in the most disgusting manner possible and stick a chainsaw in the 3D camera.
Somewhere around the three-quarter mark of 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' (when body parts both eviscerated by farm equipment and teased beneath belly shirts start to loosen their grip on your attention) you may discover that there is, surprisingly, a unique conflict here. There is, quite deliberately, no absolute villain.
Leatherface is just a simpleton - he doesn't know any better, so he kills. In fact, this new round of killing is actually done out of familial bonding. Aw, isn't that sweet. The conventional bad guy here is the mayor. He's a pig and a bully, but, you know, he did come out and destroy the family of murderous cannibals. Isn't that what good guys in movies do?
Daddario's final twist, then, is to decide whether to side with family or with the Law. This conclusion plays itself out in an industrial abattoir, naturally, with all the chains, meathooks and large-scale grinders that implies.
I'm not 100% certain the 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' creators intended this moral dissonance (they'd have probably pushed the 'Frankenstein' angle more,) but it is a welcome distraction from the rote horror film that plays out. Other than one nightmarish sequence of a van defeated by a closed gate, the rest of the movie is absolutely by-the-numbers. For the intended audience, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
'Texas Chainsaw 3D' opens in theaters on January 6.
Jordan Hoffman is a writer, critic and lapsed filmmaker living in New York City. His work can also be seen on Film.com, Badass Digest and StarTrek.com.