Texas Chainsaw – 2013
Director John Luessenhop
Starring Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Scott Eastwood, Bill Mosley, Gunnar Hansen, Marylin Burns, Richard Riehle
Screenplay Kristen Elms, Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan
Texas Chainsaw is the kind of movie that exists outside of time. It tries to make some sort of sense by ignoring the myriad sequels and remakes that had been created over the years and picking up exactly where the original left off. It even has scenes directly out of Hooper’s film. In the ensuing moments we find that there is a young child lost in the raid on the Sawyer home. She ends up in the arms of two of those who attended the massacre of what is left of the family.
Cut to, say, 20 years later. The baby is now a young woman named Heather (Daddario). She is presented with a letter informing her that a grandmother she never knew she had passed away, leaving a residence to Heather in her will. One might figure that this should be somewhere in the mid-90’s. Much of the evidence, including modern cell phones, show that the film could have been made today, nearly 40 years after the events of the original story. Either way, many of those who stay in the town have not aged more than that 20 years, It’s a convenience, to be sure, but logic is not why one watches a film with the word “Chainsaw” in the title.
So in this film, we have the tables slightly turned. Those who ignore the wise lawman (Barry) at the beginning of the film, wreaking havoc on a house that had just been the scene of horrific events, are painted in big crayola colors as bloodthirsty fools. Of course they will be the real enemies in this film, particularly the ring leader (Rae), who is now the town mayor.
Somehow, the slightly daft, yet extremely violent Leatherface (or Jed, to be even more backwoods) is looked upon as a hero of sorts. This is a stretch for the viewer to believe, as the group that Heather arrives to the house with gets the usual Jed treatment before Heather comes around to his way of thinking. The townspeople are such unbelievable assess that one has no choice but to side with the guy who kills teens. Really, those are the options. I am pretty sure Jack Benny would still be debating on why the hell he turned into the town of Newt after all.
So, when we get to the real draw of the film, it would have to be the gruesome death scenes. In this case, I am sad to report that the only thing to change in almost 40 years is the hue of the blood. The rest of the routine has become exactly that. Hammer, hook, chainsaw, and “What, that person isn’t dead yet?”
There is a semblance of satisfaction to some of the grisly killings, but that is only because, you know, one-dimensional people need a good killin’ now and then. My biggest fascination was in the strange good looks of the best friend girl, played by Raymonde. Her large lips and somewhat remarkable features held my attention, until I realized she was the one that played Ben’s daughter Alex on Lost. Then I was immersed in the small, ill-fitting coat of shame. Then I see this scene and it starts again:
Problem for me with the TCM series has always stemmed from the truth that the original film is not really good at all. It is just gory. Since it’s release, we’ve seen many better movies…Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs…even Hostel and the Rob Zombie Firefly movies mined the territory with more of tension, buildup and acting. The sequels and remakes of TCM have gone all over hell and back, and they’ve supplied weird and gross, if not necessarily a cohesive mood and story. The film was one of the first, but it was not necessary to try to flesh out the weirdness. To paraphrase Jim Gaffigan, just because camping is in everyone’s history doesn’t mean we would not want to live in houses if they are available.
If you’ve seen all the remakes and sequels, you will see this. When you finish, you will wonder why you had to. You will also wonder what year it is supposed to be in Newt, Texas.
(** out of *****)