May 15, 2013

Texas Chainsaw (2013)

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE has established itself as a true classic of relentless terror. But its many sequels, prequels, and remakes have delivered continually diminishing returns. This year’s Texas Chainsaw picks up where the original Chainsaw left off, with an opening sequence that shows the demented Sawyer family holed up in their farmhouse, surrounded by an armed, angry mob. The mob opens fire on the house and then burns the place down, apparently killing everyone inside – including the maniacal Leatherface, who wields the titular chainsaw and wears a mask of human skin.

Fast forward a couple decades, and we meet Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who learns that a grandmother she never knew has died and left Heather her mansion in Texas. Bringing along her friends Ryan (Trey Songz), Nikki (Lost’s Tania Raymonde), and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), Heather heads to her grandmother’s mansion to finalize some paperwork. Turns out that inheriting Grandma’s mansion comes with a little snag: Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is alive and living in the sprawling basement, which he’s turned into his personal butcher shop.

Like the many Chainsaw films that followed the largely bloodless original, Texas Chainsaw piles on the gore – with Leatherface putting his trusty saw to use on several victims, including his own grisly not-so-magic trick of sawing a person in half. (Texas Chainsaw’s gore comes courtesy of FX master Greg Nicotero, who also worked on Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.)

But Texas Chainsaw is more than a story about a boy and his power tool; the sins of the past also come to light, as Heather discovers her connection to the Sawyer family – and uncovers the tragic demise of a family she never knew. Corrupt policemen, brutish locals, and small-town secrets start playing a big (if not bigger) role than the horror of Leatherface, and the film falls into some sort of horror/crime hybrid that dilutes any small shred of terror it succeeded in creating.

Texas Chainsaw director John Luessenhop should get credit for attempting a fresh approach to bridge to the original film, as well as taking the terror of Leatherface beyond the house of horrors and into the local population (police investigate the killings, and Leatherface chases Heather through a crowded town fair). But not even cameos by the original Chainsaw cast can save this latest lackluster attempt at keeping the franchise alive. Uneven, rarely scary, and hobbled by an awkward and unsatisfying conclusion, Texas Chainsaw is yet another sub-par installment in a film series where, nearly 40 years later, the first is still the best.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Texas Chainsaw is rated R for “strong grisly violence and language throughout.” So, no.
Violence: People are shot, impaled, bludgeoned to death, beheaded, dismembered, skinned alive, and ground into meat.
Sex/Nudity: Heather and Ryan make out, with Heather only wearing a bra on top. Nikki strips to her bra and panties on several occasions.
Language: Countless four-letter words. A couple mentions of “retard.”

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Highly doubtful. Even if she’s a horror film buff, avoid this one and watch the original.

Hmmm...decisions, decisions...

Texas Chainsaw
* Director: John Luessenhop
* Screenwriters: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms
* Stars: Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Shaun Sipos, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, James MacDonald, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Richard Riehle, Bill Moseley
* MPAA Rating: R

Rent Texas Chainsaw from Netflix >>


Anonymous said...

Eurgh, how many times do they have to kill this film (pardon the pun).
Give a film a title that has already been used and already you are heightening the chances of it falling flat. I don't know why they do it.

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