Confucius had some pretty good proverbs didn’t he? In fact, so too did a lot of other great minds throughout human history. Now is my time. Yes, in years to come, the future space people will somehow locate this exact page and nod with smug appreciation at how profound this one review is, and how important it would be to the future of mankind. For I ask… if a film is a reboot of a sequel that bears no resemblance to the first sequel and snubs the original’s reboot in favour of the real original, whilst forgoing all other subsequent sequels, is it a reboot after all? If you’re confused by that sentence, then spare a thought for me… I had to write that stuff! Christ, no-one ever told me being a genius would be this tough! I think I’ll revert to form, lest my Phagey brain explode. Here’s a review of Texas Chainsaw 3D… which might be a sequel… or a reboot… or a confusing mess… much like my mind.
Well, where to start with this one. I hope that all of you are familiar with the seminal 1974 horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? The one that features a guy called “Leatherface” – he’s a cheery chap that loves Black & Decker chainsaws and has an awful skin problem. I assume that’s why he chooses to stitch other people’s faces to his own. As Face/Off hadn’t been released back then I’d presume he’s not just a massive Nicholas Cage fan… although those hairstyles are pretty similar… OK, you’re with me so far? Good. Are you aware that the franchise has spawned three true sequels, in the form of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation? Maybe not. And let’s be honest, why would you? They’re awful. Come on – look at the title of that last one! So the 2003 reboot came as no surprise, and nor did Hollywood’s lust for horror with the 2006 prequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning… too bad both of those were about as exciting as a toothpick too.
So… All that being said, where does the ambiguously named Texas Chainsaw 3D fit into proceedings? On the surface, it looks like it might be a hokey 3D reboot of the original. You’d be wrong there. What it is in fact, is a sequel to the 1974 original. No, not the 2003 retreading, but the true original. How do you know this? Well, the whole opening of this film shows the ending to the original – the actual footage. The plot then picks up immediately after out victims-to-be have escaped and alerted the townsfolk to what’s gone on in deepest, darkest Texas. Of course, the townsfolk don’t take kindly to this and burn down Leatherface’s family house, complete with family inside. Jump to “modern day” (more on this later) and we find our protagonist Heather (Alexandra Daddario) has inherited a house in Texas from her deceased grandmother. A grandmother that is tied to the original murderous family. A murderous family that may not be entirely dead. And still has chainsaws. You get the picture?
Yes, the plot is about as obvious as me telling you that grass is green and the sea is wet. Heather’s road trip with her pals Ryan (Trey Songz), Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) doesn’t go as planned. But luckily she did pack every horror cliché in the play book. At times it felt like I was watching another god awful instalment in the Scary Movie franchise. You want the runner to trip up / stumble / make obvious noises? Check. You want to see some boobs? Check. Women in bras and lace panties? Check. Paper thin, disposable characters? Check. Yes, every box is ticked. But that’s not my biggest issue with the film. That rests with why the film doesn’t tell you about Heather’s magical youth formula or time travel machine that she clearly invented..
OK, the original film was set in 1974. It’s clearly 1974 – the clothes, the hair and the cars are all featured at the beginning of Texas Chainsaw 3D. That definitely sets up the time period. But then we switch to 2012 for the “today” action. Trouble is, you see young Heather as a baby in 1974… and you see her as an early 20-something in 2012. This would make her 38. This isn’t a deal breaker for the film, but how could someone have missed out on this? It’d have made more sense to base this off a completely “new” original and got the times lined up. A weak oversight.
With all this being said, you’re probably expecting me to award this film something akin to 0%… but you’d be wrong. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a great film. Hell, it’s not even good. But not many slasher films are good to be honest. I just got a thrill out of seeing Leatherface (ably played by Dan Yeager here) running around with a chainsaw. Sure, it’s not the same as it used to be, as it’s all a bit too slick and not as gritty as the original. It had some fun times and I think that somewhere there’s a good story in there. Unfortunately, it’s let down by more holes than a crocheted blanket. And the final 15 minutes? Wow. The weak, colour within the lines characterisation of Heather is very weak. It’s just absurd. But I guess that’s how they go about setting up sequels nowadays! To me, it just reeked heavily of how Saw managed to extend their franchise. Except for the fact that Saw, despite its flaws, defined a new genre – regardless of how you view the “torture” style. Texas Chainsaw 3D, unfortunately, does nothing to innovate or resuscitate this emaciated franchise.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is a passable slasher movie, but that’s not a high commendation. It throws in every cliché by the truckload and will have you laughing in disbelief rather than cowering behind your hands. It’s a shame that such an iconic character as Leatherface has yet to have a truly great resurrection on screen. Just like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, I think he has had his time in the sun / moon light. I’m not saying they should be retired to their respective coffins, but they need a severe reworking if they’re ever to recapture them at their best.
And what of my proverb? Is a reboot of a sequel that bears no resemblance to the first sequel and snubs the original’s reboot in favour of the real original, whilst forgoing all other subsequent sequels, actually a reboot after all? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. I’d put my money on it being a new sequel and not a reboot or retooling. It’s simply opened up an entirely new dimension for Leatherface to invade. After all, considering Heather is able to look so damn youthful and hot despite her apparent age of 38, reality bending inter-dimensional time travel is definitely possible.