Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D and the dangers of inbreeding
Texas Chainsaw 3D has a promising start. Unlike the Michael Bay directed, Jessica Biel-led 2003 remake, or the unnecessary 2006 prequel, Texas Chainsaw opens right where the original film ends. A montage of kills from the 1974 original succeed at reaffirming that film’s beloved status while establishing a framework for an opening scene that left me optimistic.
Just as Marilyn Burns' character from the first film makes her escape, the police arrive to assess the scene. Here’s where the old film stops and Texas Chainsaw begins, showing the standoff between the police and the family that protects Leatherface. An angry mob arrives, thirsty to get at this backwards family, and the ensuing chaos lays the groundwork for the rest of the film.
Some poor acting aside, the opening sequence is excellent at capturing the time period and setting the scene for a compelling tale. I hoped it would continue, in similar style to The House of the Devil, capturing the mood of horror films of the 70s and 80s. Alas, it quickly jumps to a modern setting, where the compelling start is left on the table in favor of some stock slasher film fare.
What follows is a roadtrip of young supermodels with an impractical lack of clothing. Heather Miller has inherited her grandmother’s property in Texas, so she gets her friends together to go check it out. Of course, not all is what it seems, and you can assume the fates of the group are uncertain.
The resulting slasher film schlock makes me wonder why Cabin in the Woods isn’t required viewing for all horror writers going forward. Here the characters take hilariously obvious risks, splitting up and exploring the most obvious of kill rooms while we all impatiently await the jump scares. Heather alone trips and falls so many times that it becomes hilarious. My particular theater erupted in laughter when she face-planted again and again.
Eventually the story rolls back to the premise that got the ball rolling, dredging up the town lore and Heather’s place in everything. Unfortunately it takes any last good will from the opening minutes of the film and tosses it in a gaping plot hole. Texas Chainsaw’s third act is preposterous. Heather forgets everything that happened so far in favor of a “cool” plot twist, and even the last couple of kills are plagued by horrible CG.
So yeah, Texas Chainsaw had a pretty good first scene, but that only makes the ensuing nonsense that much worse. I’ll give the film credit for being briskly-paced and generally watchable, but that’s about as good as the compliments are going to get. The only thing worse than a bad film is one that raises your expectations before it sucks.