January 6, 2013
When I first heard there was going to be another Chainsaw film, I was curious but cautious. The last film we had was the 2006 prequel to the 2003 remake, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. That outing was less than stellar, it had good gore, but that was about it. Still, the remake was solid, one of the better ones of ever memory. So, knowing this, I went into Texas Chainsaw hoping to enjoy, but sort of expecting not to.
I liked it. In all seriousness, I liked Texas Chainsaw. Sure, there were some dumb character moments, but there was a surprise amount of cleverness and an overall feeling of sincerity. This brings up a couple of things to keep in mind when approaching a film like this. One thing to remember is that this, and remakes/sequels in general, do not ruin the original, the original will always be there for you. Another is that filmmaking is different today and there is no way the feel and tone of the original is going to be replicated. Before shutting yourself off completely, allow yourself to give it a chance. Writing something off out of hand does not help anything.
Texas Chainsaw starts right at the end of the 1974 film, the sequels, remakes, and prequels are all ignored. The events of the original film are shown over the opening credits. As Sally gets away, police are called and race to the scene as the film begins. The town arrives and calls for Jed (aka Leatherface) to be sent out to be arrested. Of course, the family is not inclined to oblige them. Things become tense when a mod shows up, ready to burn the place down. All goes wrong and it turns into a massacre. Amidst the fiery chaos, one of the mob participants finds a young baby and takes her as his own.
Years pass and the movie picks up in the present day, the baby is now a young woman named Heather (Alexandra Daddario). She receives alerted informing her that her grandmother had died and she was to inherit her home. Curious, and believing that her grandparents had passed long ago, learns of her adoption and heads to Texas, with a few friends in tow, to find the home.
Heather arrives in Texas to discover this big old house. Now, she has the house, but the house comes with a secret. This secret is on top of the one that the town keeps. Well, let's just say that all sorts of secrets come out, people are killed, people are hurt, and we learn, once again, that the saw is family.
I know that is a pretty lackluster plot description, but to say more would be to rob you of discovering it yourself. Of course, that assumes you haven't already figured out where they are going.
While the movie may be somewhat predictable and suffer from standard genre issues. The screenplay as some really awful lines and requires the cast do some silly things. However, at the same time, the movie ties pretty nicely to the original. We also get to see an interesting shift in character that can be seen as drastic, yet feels very natural in the context of the story.
As the secrets are revealed, it is interesting to see how the view of Leatherface changes. He is still a man to be wary of, but there is something tragic about him as well and that comes through in this film. We also see the strength of family and how important roots can be.
Texas Chainsaw is far from perfect. Still, there is something endearing about. It pays tribute to the past with appearances by Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface), John Dugan (reprising his role as Grandpa), Marilyn Burns (Sally in the original), and Bill Mosely (Chop Top in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2). There are also visual callbacks, low angles behind the characters, one getting hung on a meat hook, and the sheriff named Hooper (no doubt for original director Tobe Hooper).
You want to throw this under the bus and pour hate on it, go right ahead. Who am I to stop you? I will continue to enjoy it. No, it is not the original, but there is plenty to enjoy. There are some nice moments of gore, the film is shot well, and they attempted to do something interesting, more often than not succeeding. It is definitely worthy of spending time with.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 1/06/2013 07:31:00 PM
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.