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Texas Chainsaw (2013)

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Or Texas Chainsaw 3D (but also available in a 2D version for home entertainment).

I really liked the Platinum Dunes movies in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise. In fact, I REALLY liked the 2003 movie. A lot of people disagreed. I’d advise those people to stay as far away from Texas Chainsaw as possible. What we have here is a stinking, thoughtless turd of a film and, off the top of my head, the worst mainstream horror movie that I have seen in the past decade. I actually added a point to my low rating because of one or two moments of decent gore.

What’s the plot? Well, it follows on directly from the events of the 1974 Tobe Hooper classic. There’s a big siege situation at the Sawyer household (the family responsible for the massacre), the house is burnt down by the local people who have taken the law into their own hands and one child is whisked away by one of the vigilantes to be brought up entirely unaware of her family background. Fast forward to present day.

I have to pause here, just for a moment, because this is the first sticking point for the movie and it’s a biggie, symptomatic of the laziness and disrespect for the audience that runs through the entire film. I’ve heard excuses from the film-makers when they have tried to say that they changed the timeline to make the first movie take place in the 1980s. It seems like nonsense to me. The film follows on DIRECTLY from the Hooper movie. That’s what they wanted, that’s what they have to work with. But in the present day when the audience is shown the lead character, the woman who grew up after being removed from that environment we get . . . . . . . . . . . the pretty, but far too young, Alexandra Daddario. Back to the plot.

Heather Miller (Daddario) is informed that her gran has passed away and that she has been left a house in Texas. After a chat with her parents about them actually not being her parents, she heads off with a few friends to check out her inheritance. The group pick up a hitch-hiker en route and all seems good. Unfortunately, Leatherface (Dan Yeager) is somewhere in the house and when he gets free it’s not long until that chainsaw is revving up again.

I’ve already spent more time and effort on this review than it would seem writers Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms spent on this awful script. I, for the life of me, cannot understand how any fan of the original movie could possibly enjoy this. I’m sorry. I can usually step back and look at a movie from different angles but this just looks like a pile of garbage from all sides. Aside from that major timeline faux pas, the film is full of annoying characters doing extremely stupid. Let me give a prime example. If you’re being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac would you a) keep running into nearby woods in the hope of outrunning/losing the maniac or b) jump into an open coffin that was lying in an open grave and wait? When a main character chooses the latter I give up caring about whether or not they survive.

Director John Luessenhop may have been working from a seriously flawed script, but that’s no excuse for his lazy approach to the material. I’ll grudgingly admit that one little twist in the first third of the movie was quite good and there were one or two decent gore gags. Oh, I also enjoyed one moment stuck in a horrible sequence focusing on a police officer investigating a house while relaying footage back to others via his phonecam (frights on phonescreens – a cliche played out already?), but that really does cover everything that I liked, and I use the word generously, about this lazy, insulting horror film. You have to love it though, if you’re a fan, because they managed to find cameo roles for Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen and Marilyn Burns. That works, right? Right?? Wrong.

The cast aren’t to blame for the awful material they have to work with, but they don’t help. Alexandra Daddario is okay in the lead role, right up until a final reel that made me actually eject the disc in disgust as soon as the credits rolled. Dan Yeager is a weak Leatherface, neither unsettling nor physically imposing. Richard Riehle, Thom Barry (as Sheriff Hooper . . . . get it? Fans MUST love it now . . .  they must) and Paul Rae fare better than the younger cast members. It’s just a shame that they have less screentime. As for Trey Songz,  Tania Raymonde and Scott Eastwood . . . . . . . . . . they may as well have been mannequins. Keram Malicki-Sanchez actually managed to come across as quite likeable, but was then left with nothing to do while the movie crammed in more and more ridiculousness (like a scene at a carnival that somehow doesn’t alarm the entire town).

This is a terrible, terrible film and doesn’t deserve your money. I can’t put it any plainer than that.

Texas Chainsaw is released on shiny disc on Monday 27th May here in the UK. Special features include 3 different commentary tracks (one with director John Luessenhop and actor Dan Yeager, one with producer Carl Mazzocone and Tobe Hooper and one with the “Chainsaw Alumni” starring Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns and John Dugan). Unfortunately, none of these tracks are anything other than self-congratulatory fluff that never addresses any of the many problems the movie has. There are also a number of lightweight featurettes, an alternate opening and more featurettes. Very much a case of quantity over quality, these may be enjoyable if you actually liked the main movie, but they’re not going to win you over if you didn’t.

DIRECTOR: JOHN LUESSENHOP
WRITER: ADAM MARCUS, DEBRA SULLIVAN, KIRSTEN ELMS
STARS: ALEXANDRA DADDARIO, DAN YEAGER, TREY SONGZ, SCOTT EASTWOOD, TANIA RAYMONDE, SHAUN SIPOS, KERAM MALICKI-SANCHEZ, JAMES MACDONALD, THOM BARRY, PAUL RAE, RICHARD RIEHLE
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★½☆☆☆
DISC Rating: ★★½☆☆

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