Sunday, June 23, 2013

Texas Chainsaw (2013): The Saw Might Be Family, But The Family Is As Unhinged As Ever....

Quite honestly, I didn't have very high hopes for this film, as I generally don't when it comes to films that really serve no purpose other than to make a quick buck off a popular series of films and/or an equally well-known and beloved horror character.

And truth be told, Texas Chainsaw 3D is just that. A poorly-conceived sequel-slash-remake that should have never made its way to my DVD player. But it did.

And here's the thing. Maybe I was feeling especially genial when I sat down to watch this movie, but it didn't suck. I almost wanted it to, as I seriously couldn't imagine any reason to sit down for a seventh time with 'ol Leatherface.
But I read a very candid review over at Freddy in Space and was forced to admit I wanted to check it out.

Here's the deal. I hate 3D. So there would have been little to no chance of me checking this out in the theater. I feel like 3D is probably the worst gimmick quite possibly ever and see no reason to have the chainsaw come out of the screen at me. What am I, ten years old?  That might have been cute back in 1982 when my best friend and I went to see the third installment of Friday the 13th....but nowadays it is just plain stupid.  So that was out.  I wait for DVD on all these gimmicky flicks, period. That way I don't have to be subjected to vomit-inducing special effects.

I've always been a fan of the original 1974 film. I won't say "who isn't", because I'm sure there are plenty of people who thought it wrought with overly dramatic screaming and waaaay to much grunting. But it has such a shameless, gritty charm to it that it's easily one of my favorite older horror films and I take it off my DVD shelf on a fairly regular basis, turn down the lights, and let that saw rip! 

That said, the sequels that followed were pretty much pure dreck to me.  I know those are no doubt blasphemous words to all you franchise fans, but I'm just putting my honesty out there, folks.  When things start getting humorous (like all those ridiculous Freddy sequels), I'm out. I'm done.  So for me, part 2 and 3 were simply throwaways. And don't even get me started on part 4. The fact that Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey have roles only goes to show me that everyone has to start somewhere, and quite often it's in a bad horror movie.

When Michael Bay (cough cough) resurrected the series in 2003 to make a few bucks, I'll admit I couldn't look away. But I did not grace the seats of any theater to witness the films made in '03 and '06.  I waited for DVD and at least was satisfied that they brought back the actual horror of the original and cut out all the silly stuff. I mean, as funny as a grown man wearing a mask with makeup should be, it's actually on more on a disturbing level than funny-haha. 

All this aside, when I heard they were doing a new film in 3D I rolled my eyes and got out the Excedrin.
Really?  Someone felt the need to dig that grave up and subject us to body parts flying into the camera?
Heavy sigh. 

So I've come full circle to how I came to watch this latest installment. And I said all the previous comments simply so you could understand - in no uncertain terms - that I really wasn't excited about this new film.
But again, after reading the FiS review, I became slightly more intrigued.

Texas Chainsaw is nothing special. Believe me, it won't be remembered for years to come. But I have to say - I may have even liked it.  It tries to be a sequel that takes place right after the 1974 original. At least the opening credits do. We get to see scenes from the groundbreaking first movie, and then we move on as we are shown what happened after Sally escapes Leatherface in that truck at the end of the film.

Apparently the townsfolk came to the Sawyer place and demanded Jed (Leatherface) be brought out to pay for his crimes against humanity.  When the clan won't bring him out, gunfire ensues and consequently, the entire Sawyer home is burned to the ground with everyone in it.
One of the townsfolk discovers a female Sawyer hiding in the barn with a newborn and he promptly steals the baby and kills her mother. How convenient for the storyline!

Soon we are expected to suspend disbelief and move into the future. The timing is so incredibly off it isn't even funny. I won't go into detail about how the young baby should probably be in her 40's and instead is in her early 20's. I guess I'll forgive the lapse in continuity and move on. The kidnapped baby has grown into a strikingly beautiful young woman named Heather (Alexandra Daddario).

One day, just as her and her equally as beautiful friends are about to head out on a road trip, she finds out she is the sole heir of a home in Newt, Texas.  Her grandmother (that she has never met - and is portrayed by the original Sally, Marilyn Burns - score!) has died and left everything to her. So the quartet decides to make a detour through Texas on their way to NOLA and "check it out".

All pretty convenient so far. But I kind of stepped back an "pretended" I hadn't seen any of the sequels or remakes, and treated it almost like a stand-alone film. This can work, if you try hard enough...

On the way, they stop and pick up a hitchhiker. More fodder for Leatherface's saw action. But anyway...

I was kind of enthusiastic about all the little homages to the original.  Heather's friend Nikki has on a lovely pair of very short red shorts that mimicked Pam's in the '74 version. They drive a van to Texas. They pick up a hitchhiker. Etc.

When they get to the town, the Sawyer lawyer (say that five times fast) meets them outside the gates of the property Heather now owns. Funny thing is, he won't go in.  He just hands off the keys and off he goes.  If I had a quarter for every caretaker/relative/policeman/priest/lawyer/real estate agent that "won't step foot on said property" I'd be able to purchase my local cineplex. Anyhoo, the gang heads in and discovers it is a mansion. With all the wealthy accoutrements to go with it. They spend the afternoon checking the place out until they are stupid enough to allow their new hitchhiker friend to stay at the house while they go get some groceries in town (totally one of those "seriously?!" moments!)

Hitcher Darryl immediately starts looting the place when they leave, until his nosy investigating brings him face to face with Leatherface, who apparently has his digs in the basement wine cellar of the manse. Whoops!
When Heather & Co. return to find the place ransacked, they frown but quickly find other ways to spend their time (cooking, searching the house, having greedy sex). That is, until Leatherface makes himself known.
I don't really want to give everything away, as this film surprises by having a little twist in the last act. But suffice it to say, it kept my attention and I was pretty much enjoying myself the entire 92 minute running time.
There are some good kills (as you would expect with a goddamned chainsaw, right?) and many of them mimic the kills in the original film.
They have some nice cameos in here too. As I stated, Marilyn Burns has a short spot as Heather's grandma, and John Dugan reprises his role as Grandpa, can you believe it? Gunnar Hansen ('74's Leatherface) even shows up in the beginning as one of the Sawyer clan at the doomed house. You have to love it. I also must give a shout out to Bill Moseley, who is here as Drayton Sawyer in place of the deceased Jim Siedow. Moseley is welcome in anything at all, as far as I am concerned!

The ending has some serious cheese in it, and I'm not talking Gouda here. I laughed out loud in one spot and shook my head in another, but all in all it wasn't awful enough to change my opinion about the film as a whole. I will say I'm really glad I didn't waste my time seeing it at the theater, but that's only because of my severe aversion to the 3D spectacle.  I'm sure some will think me mad for enjoying this installment of the Texas gore train, but you could do a lot worse on a random Thursday night. 

1 comment:

Marie said...

Sadly I saw this piece of shite. Why can't that chick afford enough fabric for an actual shirt?