Texas Chainsaw 3D

R, 92 m., 2013

Alexandra Daddario (Heather Miller), Dan Yeager (Leatherface), Trey Songz (Ryan (as Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson)), Scott Eastwood (Carl), Tania Raymonde (Nikki), Shaun Sipos (Darryl), Keram Malicki-Sánchez (Kenny), James MacDonald (Officer Marvin), Thom Barry (Sheriff Hooper), Paul Rae (Burt Hartman), Richard Riehle (Farnsworth), Bill Moseley (Drayton Sawyer), Gunnar Hansen (Boss Sawyer / Leatherface (archive footage)), David Born (Gavin Miller), Sue Rock (Arlene Miller). Directed by John Luessenhop and produced by Carl Mazzocone. Screenplay by Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms, based on a story by Stephen Susco and Adam Marcus & Debra Sullivan, based on characters by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper.

I must be depressed. Here it is the first week of January and while I went into Texas Chainsaw 3D in a misanthropic mood and fully expected to hate it, I found it oddly watchable. Oh, sure enough on some purely logical, rational plane of my mind I can’t help but think how stupid and at times incompetent it is, but that doesn’t completely dilute the fact that as it was going on I wasn’t really bored.

The plot of this sixth installment of the popular horror series (conceived by no less than four screenwriters!) will be a familiar one: Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) finds out first that her grandmother has died and then that she has inherited the family home down in Texas. Naturally, she puts off her Mardi Gras vacation with friends and the group head down to see what  benefits she’s reaped. It’s not long before what’s in the basement (Leatherface, portrayed here by Dan Yeager as lumbering and man-child like as ever) begins knocking off poor Heather’s friends (including Lost‘s Tania Raymonde, Scott “Son of Clint” Eastwood as nefarious hitch-hiker Carl, and rapper Trey Songz as her less-than-committed boyfriend). However, that’s only half the story.

What I think kept me marginally involved as Texas Chainsaw unfolded, perhaps, is the moral quandary it puts its audience in. You see, it seems Heather is the cousin of Leatherface, unbeknownst to her (she was a baby found and raised by part of the lynch mob that burned the old house from Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original down some 39 years ago – yes). And so almost inevitably she, for the sake of the plot, manages to become the latest victim of some of the surviving members of the lynch mob (who now run the town as Mayor and Sheriff and so on) and must rely on her cousin (Leatherface!) to save her. By making Heather, and we the audience by extension, identify with Leatherface, the filmmakers have put a vaguely interesting twist on an age old story. I am, however, a bit concerned about Heather and Leatherface all alone in that house – you know, for the sake of sequels.

Now I know what you’re thinking, as occurred to me more than a few times: unless this story is set in the past, how could she have been an infant 39 years ago and be 27 – according to IMDb – now? Well, I’ve heard cannibalism keeps you young. No matter. Director John Luessenhop (Takers) and his four (!) screenwriters aren’t concerned about such incongruities, and so why should we be? That said, the best part of this film has to be the opening credits, which rehash the ending of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) as the lead-in to this latest plot. So there’s that.

Note: I saw this film in converted 2D, although it’s said it was shot in 3D. Considering how dark and murky so many of the night scenes are, I can’t fathom how this would be watchable in 3D.

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