Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Recent Watches: Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
with other horror properties, they chose to not make anymore and sat on the rights for a few years. As soon as that option lapsed, Liongates and Twisted Pictures – the folks behind the “Saw” movies – scooped up the rights, leading to many puns about the company switching one saw for another. They hoped “Texas Chainsaw 3D” would launch a new series. It didn’t but a few horror fans still found the film to be the best entry in the franchise in years.
Choosing to ignore all prior sequels and remakes, “Texas Chainsaw” opens days after the events of Tobe Hooper’s original movie. After Sally Hardesty made it back to civilization, she told everyone about the cannibal clan in the Texas countryside. The police tried to intervene but not before some good ol’ boys burned the Sawyer home to the ground. Leatherface was thought dead. Some decades later, a girl named Heather receives news that she’s adopted. Her birth parents were part of the Sawyer clan. She’s set to inherent the family mansion. As she drives down with her friends, Heather discovers the mansion isn’t the only thing she’s inheriting. Leatherface lives.
The film proclaims adherence to Tobe Hooper’s original but clearly models itself after the remake. It’s hard to believe that the Sawyer family in that original, so poor they had to eat people, could be related to someone who owned a big mansion. Instead, the expansive Hewitt estate seen in the remake is a likelier inspiration. All of the twenty something victims have perfectly sculpted bodies. To prove they’re all former underwear models, they spend a lot of time in their underwear. They’re also all terrible people. Heather’s boyfriend and best friend are sleeping together behind her back. The hitchhiker they pick up is a petty thief. The other friend has stupid ear piercings and listens to terrible music. Despite their L.A. good looks, they’re trashy people. Pretty much everybody in the movie is.
The whole movie has a similar, sort of goofy Halloween spook show atmosphere. The movie is actually set at Halloween. A notable sequence takes place at a carnival, featuring Leatherface’s quasi-comedic reactions to normal Halloween partiers. The old mansion features a giant iron gate, creepy photographs on the wall, secret rooms, and comically oversized key rings. That brings a certain classical spookiness to the proceedings. Of course, there’s that 3D element too, which manifests in many ridiculous ways. A chainsaw is tossed directly at the camera. While Heather hides inside a casket, Leatherface’s saw buzzes right in her face. Leatherface leaps from the shadows, saw buzzing. (Refreshingly, there’s a lack of obnoxious jump scares.) Not to mention the melodramatic plot, with its birthmarks, dark family secrets, decade old revenge, and angry mobs.
Even that’s not the main reason I like “Texas Chainsaw 3D.” Of all the non-Hooper flicks in the series, this one gets Leatherface the most right. In his old age, Leatherface has basically become a pathetic nerd. He lives at home, in the basement, spending his considerable free time on his hobbies. The film returns the childish element Leatherface had in the original. (He also, pointedly, doesn’t have a facial deformity.) By the end, the redneck mayor and his cronies are beating him with chains, torturing him. Leatherface may be a cannibalistic serial killer but you feel bad for him. When he turns his saw against his tormentors, you cheer. During most long running horror franchises, the audience begins to root for the monster eventually. There’s something perversely amusing about making the brutal slasher more-or-less the hero of the movie. Considering how much personality Leatherface has, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
prequel called simply “Leatherface” has been sitting on the shelves for a while now. It remains to be seen if it’ll match the brain dead fun of this one, whenever it’s released. [7/10]