THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Directed by John Luessenhop
"It plays like an classic 80s horror movie."
A few weeks ago, The Black Sheep dove into the world of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which often is looked at as the worst of the bunch (its not that bad). However, like any good franchise, we learned that nothing will keep it dead forever. Michael Bay brought it back into the mainstream (the thing made real money) with two movies, however, that’s where it stopped cold like a frozen dead slab of meat. Fast forward six or so years later to find yet another reboot...this time in 3D!
Full disclosure up front: I have an odd point of view with this latest reboot of the series. In 2012, I had the chance to visit the set of Texas Chainsaw 3D (we were able to see them film the opening standoff sequence). So...maybe I like the movie a little more because most of the folks on set were seemed nice enough. It was about 110 that day in Louisiana, but everybody still seemed all excited about the project, and hell who wouldn't. This is the granddaddy of all horror franchises, and to go with with shitty intentions...well, isn't cool. First, let's get what’s most disappointing about Texas Chainsaw 3D out of the way as the majority of reviews were...unkind. They missed a hell of an opportunity with the start of the flick as it begins with a basic recap of the original flick with clips and all that, and then places us moments after the first one ended, with the local police and rednecks learning what the hell was going on there. They wanted street justice.
In many ways, the movie should have stayed right there, which would have been a more interesting twist rather then bringing the story back to the present where we’ve seen it done before. There’s a real f*cked up family drama that could have been explored a little more in 1970s, and things could have really gotten messed up. Instead, they kill off the entire Sawyer clan, which is kinda stupid considering the Chainsaw series isn’t just about Leatherface, but about how f*cked up a family can be. I guess I just wanted that 70s storyline more than the present one, but I do give the flick credit for at least attempting to play with the legend a little bit. Since the writers (six are listed) killed off the family, they at least explore the nearby townsfolk, who understandably don't really dig the Sawyer family. That idea is interesting, and the fact they become the true villains is yes stupid, but a nice twist. Now I won’t spoil anything, but at least Texas Chainsaw 3D does a little to redeem themselves with the Sawyer family with the grand conclusion, but they could have done more. The depth is really only minimal, but hell, at least they tried.
Now I'm sure others have complained about the fact that Leatherface doesn't show up until the 30 minute mark (well, he does appear in the old timeline, and it takes a while until he reappears in modern times), but it didn't bother me. This version tries to emulate that mighty first film, so the big fella can't fire up the old fun saw right away. They have to find him first, right? When they finally do, it delivers with the gore. Leatherface sure is pissed to have his first guests in about 30 years. He slices and dices as the blood sprays. The 3D is entertaining enough, but it ain’t exactly necessary (when is it? Oh, and the title sequence looks like it belonged with Jaws 3D). Without the glasses on, most of the 3D shots look a little desperate (the saw keeps getting closer and closer to the camera). Texas Chainsaw 3D looks great and sounds great. What I like about it is that in many ways, it plays like an classic 80s horror movie (beside the obvious differences). The girls are stupid hot. The guys are pointless future victims. The dialogue is cheesy. And don't think too much watching it...like how did Leatherface remain hidden for 30 years! How the hell did he keep up his strength without a good old fashioned hunt living behind a giant metal door. Or worse, the ending with wayyyy too much forgiveness. Sure, Leatherface isn't not as nutty as Next Generation, but he has some real pain at moments and even becomes the victim at one point, which is...awkward.
Texas Chainsaw 3D already plays like a cheap, cheesy 80s movie. Give it a few years and it’ll be perfectly bad I think. Sure, it didn’t revive the franchise like they hoped, but perhaps another generation needs to go by before it feels new again. It's not as gritty as the original or even the Bay remake, but this still enjoyable enough with effective gore and lots of chainsaw action (the dude he saws in half is pretty, pretty nasty).