It’s all downhill from minute one in Texas Chainsaw, which begins with a 3D opening credits sequence featuring clips of Tobe Hooper’s classic original, a ham-fisted attempt to shoehorn this stillborn “sequel” into the mythology of the series’ best film, while ignoring all of the vastly inferior efforts that followed. However, like 2011′s crass “prequel” to The Thing, Texas Chainsaw is essentially a remake dressing itself up as something different; a lazy, cynical mix of predictable jump scares and unimaginative kills, many of them stolen verbatim from the original film.
The problems begin with the concept; the opening scene continues immediately after the events of the first film, whereby a gang of vigilantes burn down the Sawyer family farm, presumably killing Leatherface and his entire murderous family, except for a baby girl, who is taken in by a local family. Then we shift to 18 years later; the baby is fully-grown Heather (Alexandra Daddario), and learns that she has been left an inheritance, a house belonging to her long, lost grandmother. She ventures across Texas with boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine Neverson) and friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez) to claim the property and check it out, unaware that Leatherface continues to lurk there in the basement.
How is all this a problem exactly? The original film took place in 1974, and so logic would dictate that this sequel would be set in 1992, which seems entirely plausible, at least until characters begin touting iPhones and a gravestone reveals that the year is, in fact, 2012. Are we supposed to believe that Heather is in fact 38 years old? Is Leatherface now in his 60s? Or does the film just have so little regard for the film that preceded it, that it doesn’t give a damn what year it was set in? It’s a creative choice – one which could easily have been avoided by simply setting the film in 1994 – that’s indicative of the entire film, careless, insistent and a mere shade of the original film’s brilliance.
After the initial barn-razing scene, the film grinds to a halt, bereft of atmosphere and possessing a TV-movie aesthetic, a surprise given that director Luessenhop’s previous film Takers, though terrible, at least impressed on a visual level. We get the usual horror clichés - the oversexed, irritating teen characters, the fake-out “scares”, and needlessly long build-up – before Leatherface abounds and starts killing the kids – who, with the exception of Tania Raymonde, can’t act their way out of a paper bag – in incredibly dull ways.
Even once the violence ramps up, the film too often relies on unintentionally hilarious genre tropes; there are parts of this movie that play like they belong in Scary Movie, specifically when Heather trips over twice in quick succession while fleeing Leatherface, and moments later climbs a ferris wheel in order to try and escape. There’s also a tongue-in-cheek reference to Saw – one which, given its potential, is completely wasted – and try not to roll your eyes once one a character named Sheriff Hooper turns up.
This all bounds towards a finale that provides one of cinema’s most ridiculous recent excuses for near-nudity, while incredulously making a woefully misguided attempt to humanise Leatherface and make villains out of the local authorities. The final moments, completely lacking in even a shred of psychological plausibility, are the final, head-smackingly idiotic nail in the coffin of this braindead horror film.
Failing to even make good on its gimmicky 3D presentation – which is wholly at odds with the gritty tone of the original film anyway – this is a film that fails on pretty much every conceivable level. Another glorified remake in denial, Texas Chainsaw is an early contender for the worst film of 2013.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is out now
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