By Gabrielle Morken (Québec)
This movie sucks.
That’s probably all anyone really needs to know about this, but since it was extremely well received by many, I suppose I should justify myself.
The movie takes place after the 1974 original, so forget all the sequels, and forget the two remakes. The whole crazy family of the original is defeated by vigilante locals, although they do rescue one small baby from the slaughter…Years later, a teenage girl finds out that she was adopted, and that her dead grandmother left her everything she owned, which includes a huge, fancy mansion. But wait, wasn’t the whole family dead? Where did that grandmother come from? Well, as it so happens, this movie is, in a big part, about two families and their feuding history. I can’t divulge too much because the story is actually very interesting…or would be, if it didn’t suffer from endless character progression and plot development that could have been done in two minutes.
I understand that as time goes on and as my hair thins out, the horror genre needs to evolve a little. Make it a bit more intelligent and sophisticated. But should that be done by compromising what horror became a genre for in the first place? And even SO, I got a cool Christmas gift which is a box set of old black and white horror flicks, fifty movies in all. Many of these do it much better than Texas Chainsaw 3D did. My point here is that this movie tried to do something that could have been done very easily without having to ruin the whole dagnab thing.
So we have a family war between the Sawyers and the Carsons. The Carsons eventually got fed up with the lunatic cannibal family, the Sawyers, and went down to lay down some law.
And why “Sawyer”? Because it has the word “saw” in it? Lol.
So the Carsons come out victorious, and rescue a Sawyer baby, who is later adopted. Years later, said baby, all grown up now, finds out she inherited this big ol’ mansion, so her and a few friends go travel out there to check things out. It seems so promising; you have something new to the series, while keeping in the old cheesy clichés that make these movies great. Little does Edith (our main character) or really much of anyone really, know that a member of the Sawyer family remains alive, after all these years, Leatherface himself, my friends.
The problem with bashing this movie’s premise is due to the fact that the whole plot is actually really original and promising, but it completely fails to deliver, at least in my opinion. It spends way too much time being a drama movie rather than horror. And its final impact and conclusion were so predictable in a way that isn’t good for a horror movie, so what was the point? It’s all done well, but really let me ask you this, what does a Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan come for? I’ll go for whatever crap you want me to eat, as long as the premise delivers in a way that makes it fun. Obligatory horror rules don’t work if you don’t have some kind of flair. It seems to me that most horror aspects here were added in the way you do your homework as a child really quick after a huge snowfall.
So what do we come to see? Well, something a little more brutal. This reminds me of how Rob Zombie should have never had the rights to redo the Halloween series he should have got The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Then it would have rocked. And whoever did the Friday the 13th remake should have obtained Halloween, instead. But I go off track…
First of all, this isn’t scary in any way. You get unrelated character relationships that lead absolutely nowhere, completely ridiculous chase scenes. Leatherhead busting into a crowded festival, while nobody really does anything, except think that he’s some guy dressed up, just like everyone else. That might have been saved, and might have been entertaining if the whole carnival scene had been expended into something more. I mean it could have followed the eighties slasher type style of outrageous climax building and it would have been fair. But no, they just follow into something else, leaving the typical police report about how some crazy guy just barged in there, and then just kill the whole scene.
And then there’s some scene where a girl shuts herself into a coffin to hide from Leatherface…then he finds her and starts doing what he does best. Maybe it was some kind of metaphor I missed, or more likely, it was time we saw some nose tickling special 3D effects.
Sure, most of the movies in this series never did much to stray away from the common and simple horror fare, but they executed themselves with style and panache, using dreary and depressing imagery that grabbed you by the throat and threw you into the setting. It presented you with crazy ass characters that made you forget that the movies operated, nearly, on the general slasher blueprint that should, otherwise, be boring as hell. It included enough sentimental content and raw dementia to give you a good scare, and a caring for the characters and what was going on.
This movie forgets all of that, and tries to give you a fancy parasol sporting cocktail while all you wanted was a greasy burger and a huge glass of Cola. Could have at least included more violence and gore! The fancy, twisty story full of emotional drama that tries to make you contemplate morality isn’t going to save this movie.
No cool imagery. No deserted wastelands, no farm houses that give an ode to the macabre, no hysterical chase scenes, no people pieces in the fridge. This movie forgot about its setting, and the worse thing of all, is you’re probably going to have to be a fan of the series to understand where this is going. And at that point you might as well watch one of the originals, or check out some random three second long YouTube clip that offers some fancy quote by Lee Ermey.
“People may not remember what we say here tonight, but by God they’ll remember what we did.”
Aaah, now I feel better.
So what was good about this movie? Well, it’s gorgeous to look at, for one thing. It’s also in 3D, and it has some interesting effects in that respect. But you know, there should have been a few more deaths, and instead of making sure everything just sticks out in my face, they could have concentrated on generating more intestines and brain matter and skull pieces. I hate how all that 3D stuff seems so much of a replacement for visual quality, and I have an idea that Tom Savini might agree with me. Spray paint blood just looks silly, no matter how much of it you put in.
The story also has its moments, even if I personally think most of it fails. There are some touching moments between our protagonist and our antagonist, which makes you scream out a great big hell yeah. But it really isn’t worth the hour and a half this movie uses to piss around the bush.
Most of the characters are highly forgettable, and the talent of some of the actors, because there is much talent, don’t get me wrong, is completely ridiculed with the premise. I think they just worked with what they had. I was going to save a soft spot for Leatherface, but he also fails to impress. The story shows him as having feelings, but did they really have to try and emphasize this by giving him a big, red Christmas sweater? Especially considering how much the story has crafted itself to be something other than blood and guts.
I don’t mind innovation and new elements in my horror, in fact I welcome it. But if you’re just gonna screw it up…Chainsaw isn’t something hard to get, and my conclusion is, they really should have stuck with the more original formula, and not try to make something new. Another good thing about this movie is that its ending doesn’t promise much for a sequel.
The worst part is that they could have done something very different as they’ve attempted, but still make it fun. Making cheap attempts at eye winks for old time fans with “a stranger riding in the van” or just hanging a few bones here and there isn’t going to win over the hard-core fan who came for the violence but stayed for the sunset. And as such a fan, I’m sorely disappointed with this movie. And I still would be, if I had never watched any of the others, ever.
I command the effort and the work put into it, but this series isn’t about people cheating on each other or some Saw type deal (the horror franchise with Jigsaw) revelation in the police station. It’s about some crazy bastard wanting to sew your face on to his. How hard is this to get? But at least there was a chainsaw duel in it. Can’t argue that. That gives it one point more than I had first intended, so 3/10.
Now I’d like to apologize to anyone who reads this and loved the movie; fans and new comers alike, but I sort of take my horror too seriously, and I find that this movie was ruined to no ends, for the most part, especially considering the franchise it was trying so hard to honor. I really did appreciate some of the knot making and drama, but to me that alone does not make a TCM film.