It's Horror Movie Month! "Texas Chainsaw 3D" Review

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The seventh installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise is the first to be presented in 3D. Decades later and hundreds of miles away from the original massacre, a young woman named Heather (Alexandra Daddario) learns that she has inherited a Texas estate from a long lost grandmother. She heads out on a road trip to collect the inheritance, unaware that it includes her cousin, Leatherface (Dan Yeager), as well.
2.5

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It's Horror Movie Month! "Texas Chainsaw 3D" Review

Rating: R Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: January 4, 2013
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Genre: Horror / Thriller

Sequels regularly appear a few years after hit films, but "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is a professed sequel to the 1974 "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" movie released thirty-nine years after the original. It seems based more on the memories original-movie watchers are likely to have retained after so many years instead of the original script itself, and it ignores the official sequels and remakes that have appeared in past years. Overall, the film delivers an enjoyable experience, as long as viewers are willing to skim over events in the film or not think too much about the characters' actions.

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" told a tale of five teens who visited an old farmhouse and found it to be populated by a mentally disturbed family who butchered four of them while the fifth barely escaped alive. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" picks up where that tale left off. The fifth girl, Sally, tells her tale to the police who then go off in search of the iconic villain, Leatherface. A mob intervenes, attacking and killing all of Leatherface's deranged relatives, the Sawyer family, but the villain himself escapes death. One of the family's young children is saved by two mob members and raised as their own, under the name Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario), until she inherits a lonely house after the death of her biological grandmother. She then packs up a team of cannon-fodder friends and heads back to the house where it all began to inspect her inheritance. Obvious butchery ensues.

The acting in the film is one of its saving graces. Daddario delivers an excellent performance, avoiding all the pitfalls that a cardboard horror protagonist can attract. Likewise, her friends who tag along, seemingly only to up Leatherface's kill count, deliver solid performances. Trey Songz, Tanya Raymonde, and Keram Malicki-Sánchez are believable in their roles as friends of the movie's heroine even if their actions are not most of the time. The portrayal of Leatherface by Dan Yeager is particularly notable—he becomes a sympathetic character at some points of the movie—but the script and history of the fictional setting somewhat diminish his obviously talented performance.

The 1974 release's use of lighting and exceptional camera angles set the standard for decades to come. Unfortunately, the addition of 3D technology and the haphazard method of capturing action in a music-video-style format ruins much of the suspense in "Texas Chainsaw 3D." The audio, however, is a highlight of the film. It's easy to get caught up in the score, which may be enough for squeamish viewers who sit with their eyes closed through the seemingly unnecessary gore and violence that crops up from time to time, serving no real purpose other than to shock viewers or convince them to turn away.

The script for "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is one of the areas where more care could have been taken. The townsfolk and characters do things so silly that moviegoers are more likely to be constantly reminded of the "Scary Movie" franchise than experience any sense of suspense or horror upon examining the actions of the characters. Characters who can plainly outrun Leatherface decide to duck and hide when given ample opportunity for escape and try to drive through steel gates when they have the key code to unlock them. In one less-than-memorable moment, the heroine attempts to escape using the most ineffective device ever—a Ferris wheel. The dialogue, however, is one redeeming quality of the script. Characters actually seem to think before they speak despite not doing so before they act.

The script for the 1974 classic wasn't a great cinematic storyline, but at least the direction of the piece prevented it from devolving into humor during what appeared to be the most suspenseful moments. Luessenhop seems to have gone with the screenwriter theory of emphasizing the use of 3D technology for pure coolness factor. A Ferris wheel in 3D is certainly fun, but it's out of place when someone is fleeing from a villain who staggers and shambles. Moviegoers who are paying attention are likely to notice these flaws at first glance, which does detract from the film somewhat.

"Texas Chainsaw 3D" is a fun 3D film that may be enjoyable for a Halloween night out, but it is likely to leave horror fans wanting more. The excellent acting and dialogue help drive along the plot, but the script seems to exist only to put the characters in peril and make the most of the 3D technology, prohibiting them from taking actions their established personalities would seem to suggest. That makes the film a fun romp for a single viewing, but, ultimately, it's unlikely to have much staying power. It may find itself on the shelves of fans of more comedic horror films, though it attempts to remain a serious piece.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5