Upon first glance, John Lussenhop’s Texas Chainsaw is a shameless remake to capitalize on the existing success of the revolutionary franchise. However, the insult to Leatherface and this film goes far deeper than that. Our story picks up right where the original 1974 film left off.
Sarah Hardesty escapes the sociopathic, homicidal family that was keeping her and her friends hostage. Shortly after her escape, members of the town, bent on revenge, slaughter not just the family present at the time, but members that were previously unknown or shown; save for a newborn baby which is raised by members of the lynch mob. A few years later – the year is never shown so that it can be 20 something years instead of 30 something – that child grows up to be Heather Miller, played by Alexandra Daddario. She finds that her maternal grandmother – from the famous Leatherface’s family – has passed away and left the Carson estate to her. She takes her friends to the house to check it out, and before long, the terror starts all over again.
Texas Chainsaw suffers the same treatment as Friday the 13, Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween; it was too simple to just have a death wielding juggernaut terrorizing otherwise decadently jovial youths. Now, our apex predator has to be given a back-story that makes him a sympathetic character; so we can better understand the underlying psychology. All this does is weaken the terror factor of the movie. The less we know, the more our imagination runs away with us and, therefore, the further we spiral into the horror of the movie.
TC takes it one step further; before the end of the movie, the director actually tries to make us sympathize with Leatherface. That’s right; since it was his family that was slaughtered by the despicable folks in town; we are actually supposed to encourage the last of the Sawyer clan as he embarks on another murderous rampage. It’s almost as insulting as it is idiotic.
The pacing in the film is a complete farce. To prevent the typical buildup for a jump scare, there are multiple fake outs to lead the audience astray. However, instead of building tension, often these are distracted by black humor moments or brevity. Then, immediately after, the audience is bombarded with either disturbing images or a jump scare from our favorite chainsaw wielding maniac. The film never takes the time to properly build tension, set the tone for any particular scene or even use completely appropriate music, and it suffers greatly as a result. The 3D was laughably campy and entertaining. The chunks of flesh flying at the screen were obviously computer generated, and reminiscent of Jaws 3D from years gone by. They are by no means realistic; however, they were still quite entertaining and pleasurable to the eye.
One of the most important rules and lessons of any horror films is to make a core group of characters that the audience takes time to know, like and appreciate so that there is a strong emotional investment in the characters so that the audience reacts strongly to their demise. Here, there isn’t anyone to get behind. There’s a cheating boyfriend, a drunken whore best friend, a tag line spouting would-be extra and a thieving hitchhiker who wasn’t even a part of the original group. Throw in a corrupt mayor and a bumpkin that will make you think of Deliverance and it won’t be long before you’re hoping Leatherface wipes out most of the state of Texas.
To call this movie a cheap cash in would be both obvious and yet a gross understatement. All horror movie remakes pale in comparison to the origin of their franchise, but this installment to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is plain insulting. The story is ludicrous, the main characters are almost completely unlikable and, worst of all, we are actually supposed to be siding with and defending a character who’s done nothing but kill and maim everyone in his path for almost four decades. If you’ve never seen any other Texas Chainsaw movies, this is not a good place to start as it expects the audience to have familiarity with the story. Anyone who has seen the previous film will be completely insulted by this haphazard and despicable continuation of the story.
This movie offers nothing to anyone, even as mindless entertainment. Half of one star out of four!
In theaters January 4th, watch the trailer.