Weak ending sinks an already weak film
Texas Chainsaw starts out as a fairly intriguing film. Taking place directly after the events of the first film from the ‘70s to start with, the film seamlessly moves from Tobe Hooper’s seminal classic into an extended version of that narrative. After the final harrowing escape by Sally (Marilyn Burns) from the Sawyer household the police have arrived and it’s not looking pretty. Following some mob justice against the family the only survivor is an infant who grows up to become Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario). When her grandmother passes and leaves her the family estate she feels honor bound to go and investigate. Bringing her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz), best friend Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Nikki’s boyfriend Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) to investigate it, they discover something buried deep inside: Leatherface.
And from here it goes all downhill, culminating in one of the worst endings of the past several years in cinema.
The crux of the film is that Heather and her friends are suffering the same fate as the original group of dead teenagers in Tobe Hooper’s original film. It’s a repeat of history for a good chunk of the film as Leatherface gets to murder twenty-somethings in gruesome fashion. The usual horror tropes prevail as the characters aren’t given much depth but just enough to make us know who they are quickly. It’s entertaining and graphically violent, of course, as the film knows exactly what chords to strike and when to strike them.
Texas Chainsaw does a lot of things really strong on a technical level. It transitions seamlessly from highlights of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to this film’s origin, maintaining the original film’s style and washed out look to perfection. It’s so wonderfully done it’s almost shocking; there isn’t a moment where you can tell which film was made now and which was made nearly forty years ago. It’s a technical marvel on a minor level, of course, but the fact that the film moves so flawlessly from older stock to this one that it doesn’t lose that suspension of disbelief early on. On the whole Texas Chainsaw is perfectly acceptable horror genre entertainment for its opening two acts that with a strong ending it could’ve wound up being a solid if unremarkable remake/reboot if not for a couple of glaring problems.
The first is kind of slight in that it begins with the time frame the film is supposed to take part in. Heather’s supposed to be in her 20s, and the film progresses from the ‘70s into the modern age based on the technology available, so either someone had cell phones from 2012 in the ‘90s or the timeline is a bit screwy. The film wants to make it about a young girl going back but based on the film’s usage of time Heather should either be older or the film’s technology should not be nearly as advanced.
The other is in the film’s ending. After establishing Leatherface as a villain over any number of films, including the first film in the series, John Luessenhop opts to do what Rob Zombie did to Michael Myers in Halloween by giving his character a tragic backstory and sympathy. In the end Leatherface is turned into a hero, or at least is supposed to be, after we see what has happened to him. It’s hard to imagine that Heather, who saw him butcher her friends with gusto, somehow becoming a fan based on information coming to light.
Leatherface is supposed to be this monster and yet Luessenhop wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants Leatherface to still be a villain and commit bad acts but wants some sort of redemption for the monster as well. It’s the same problem that Zombie had with his film as well; they want to humanize the monster but in the end it just leaves the film falling flat. Texas Chainsaw 3D winds up being another in a failed attempt at a sequel/reboot/remake to Tobe Hooper’s seminal classic.
Director: John Luessenhop
Writer: Kirsten Elms, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan based on a story by Stephen Susco, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan and characters created by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel
Notable Cast:Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Scott Eastwood, Paul Rae, Thom Barry