Texas Chainsaw 3D is in theaters now, a little late in season for a good horror flick. After sequels, reboots, prequels to the reboots, and tons of other nonsense around the franchise, this promises to be a fresh take on the series, and liven it up some. But with a name so tarnished by horrible entries, is it worth trying to save, or should it be left to rot in the basement?
This flick takes a brave move. It’s a direct sequel to the original film, completely ignoring all sequels, remakes, and other associated garbage. It’s a unique move to try to keep the series relevant, but to completely ignore five other films is pretty bold. But you know what? It works. The story never feels like its retreading ground, and it’s a pretty damned good flick. While it does have a fair amount of shortcomings, it’s still a better entry than The Beginning.
The story is pretty interesting, honestly. After the events of the first film, the townspeople burn the Sawyer family homestead to the ground, leaving but a single known survivor. Years later, main character heather learns she has an inheritance to collect in the small town of Newt, and her and the predictable van full of teenagers are off in search of adventure and her inheritance. Once in the town, however, events unfold that thrust Heather into the history of the town, and make sure she’ll now be part of it. Up to a certain point, it’s all pretty standard horror fair. People do stupid things and die, they run around and scream, they have futile attempts at hiding, and there’s a pretty big surprise at the end. The bad thing about the story is that for the first half of the movie, it’s just too over the top predictable. You know whose going to die, you know that their plans aren’t going to work. But in the last act of the film, it just gets flipped upside down, and it honestly makes you forget about the rest of the flick. Which, the sooner the better. While relative newcomer Alexandra Daddario does a fairly good job with main character Heather, the rest of the cast is pretty weak. I don’t know if they cast the roles in a way you’d want the characters to die, but it sure feels like it. There’s a few characters that don’t grate on you the way most do, but that’s all probably due to the low amount of screen time they get. There’s a couple of interesting cameos thrown about, too. Looking back, with a slightly better supporting cast, the film wouldn’t have felt so boring. I literally had a hard time paying attention through some of it just because they were all so flat. It wasn’t until I heard a chainsaw again that I would perk up and start really paying attention.
Now when the violence starts up, it gets good. While there’s plenty of sawing, plenty of blood, and some pretty inventive kills. It’s nice to see Leatherface really digging in with his saw this go round, unlike the remakes. While the splatters and a lot of the gore is CG, in the dark, dank environments it’s not as noticeable as in more sterile looking films. Horror purists will still have plenty of complaints though. And I hate to say it, but the 3D looks pretty good. There’s plenty of pop outs and sight gags, but flicks like this are what cheesy 3D was made for. If you’ve ever wanted a bloody, revving chainsaw feel inches from your face, you’ll be in heaven. And while the other films try to capture the look of the original, I think this one comes the closest. There’s a difference between a layer of grime, and things feeling naturally run down, and the director knows how to show that. For the first time since the original, it really looks like you’re going back to the town of Newt, as shown in the first film.
All in all, it’s a fun little horror flick that makes good use of 3D, and has a somewhat decent story flip at the end. If you can make it through the boring as hell characters, and slow as crap beginning, the end is worth it. It’s sure as hell not going to win any awards, but it might make you forget about the truly crappy films in the franchise.
3 out of 5