As Celebuzz reported Sunday, Texas Chainsaw 3D took the top spot at the box officer over the weekend of January 7, earning more than $23 million as it outpaced holiday performers such as Django Unchained and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
But no matter how much money the film took in, it’s not the sort of “entertainment” – even in a “dump month” like January – which does anything unique or interesting enough to earn the commercial success it has enjoyed thus far.
Specifically, it’s a remarkably misguided new installment of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise which lacks scares, narrative cohesion or even the benefit of basic logic. Stupid, lazy and boring, Texas Chainsaw 3D is so bad it boggles the mind how or why Lionsgate considered it suitable to be released as a real feature film. [Warning: Spoilers below.]
On a basic story level, the film literally makes no sense: TC3D opens at the end of the original film, which was made and set in 1974, focuses on a (possibly) 20 to 25-year-old woman who was a baby at that time, and yet inexplicably the new film takes place in 2012.
Oddly, the opening scenes feature plenty of period detail to thoroughly confirm that ‘70s setting, and yet the characters use technology that could not exist anywhere except in the present. (Late in the film, a police officer uses Facetime on his iPhone to provide streaming video for his superiors as he investigates a potential crime scene.)
Meanwhile, the premise of the film is that this same female character, Heather (Alexandra Daddario), is related to the Sawyer family – whose black-sheep son is none other than Leatherface (Dan Yeager). When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative, she travels down to Texas to find out about her “real” family, and its many dark secrets. What she soon discovers is that her family has effectively been engaged in a twisted, decades-old conflict with the Hartman clan, and she’s the catalyst for that battle to begin anew.
Despite this familial conflict, the first two-thirds of the film are devoted to the perfunctory rhythms of Leatherface chasing and killing Heather and her friends. The big problem with this is that (1) none of the murders are executed with any style or suspense and (2) the twentysomething protagonists we’re supposed to care about are the stupidest, most unlikeable characters even in a rich and colorful history of stupid, unlikeable horror movie characters.
Heather manages not only to trip over a 12-inch “fence,” but she falls with a regularity that approaches parody – at least three or four times as she’s running from her attacker. Meanwhile, her boyfriend and best friend cheat on her with one another, and then they are summarily killed by Leatherface before this information is ever revealed to Heather, making it an entirely worthless plot development except to intensify the audience’s growing exasperation with them before they’re executed.
Moreover, add in a black sheriff who has held his job for 20- or 40 or however many years and somehow is entirely powerless whenever a local businessman decides that he wants to exact his own brand of redneck justice, and a final-act twist in which we’re supposed to sympathize with, you guessed it, Leatherface instead of his victims.
All of it adds up to a spectacularly nonsensical and mind-numbing experience which not only betrays the raw visceral energy of the original film, but even the margins of what constitutes tolerable horror moviemaking in an age of derivative sequels, remakes and spinoffs. Texas Chainsaw 3D is not just a bad horror movie, it’s a bad any kind of movie.
Watch Celebuzz’ interview with Alexandra Daddario and Trey Songz below, and let us know — did you see the film? If so, what did you think?
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