Review: Texas Chainsaw (2013)

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Director: John Luessenhop
Screenwriters: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms & Stephen Susco
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Tremaine Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Shaun Sipos, Dan Yeager, Paul Rae, Thom Barry & Scott Eastwood
Runtime: 92 min // Certificate: 18

The tagline for Texas Chainsaw is “Evil wears many faces”, which reminds me of this classic exchange from Blackadder II;

Percy: Oh, how I would love to be an actor! I had a great talent for it in my youth — I was the man of a thousand faces.
Edmund: How’d you come to choose the ugly mug you’ve got now then?

If evil does “wear many faces”, why on Earth did it pick one as hideous as this? Such is the case with Texas Chainsaw, a sequel to Tobe Hooper’s horror classic that almost manages to make the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake look good.

Let’s cover the plot for a moment; Heather (Daddario) discovers that she’s adopted when her late Nan leaves her a house in Texas. Deciding to check it out, she takes her mates to see the house only to be attacked by a lunatic wielding a chainsaw (Leatherface, played by Dan Yeager). One by one her mates are butchered until only Heather remains. Meanwhile, the town’s Mayor (Rae) has a secret that he wants to keep hidden. These two threads come together in a hodgepodge of nonsense, then the credits roll. That’s it. The end…

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Now, Texas Chainsaw commits such a vast number of unpardonable crimes that one doesn’t really know where to begin in the total defamation of its character, though let’s start with the fact that it panders to the lowest common denominator without a single hint of shame. It is a film that cares not for the intelligence of its audience, nor for the revere in which the original is held. With an approach that borders on criminal it pillages and plagiarises far greater material with zero appreciation for what it is that makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre so timeless; where once there was a lack of gore there is now an abundance of it; where once there was sheer terror, now there are pathetic jump-scares of the cattle-prod variety; where once there were characters, now there are husks, cast on the basis of their bra size / torso definition. In essence, whatever the original film got right this pitiful excuse for a sequel gets categorically, shambolically and unforgivably wrong.

Ah yes, I forgot to stress that this is a sequel, not a remake. Except it’s not, is it; it’s a flagrant cash-in of the worst possible kind. It has no right to call itself a sequel because it bears no resemblance to the film it is supposedly “sequelizing”. The plot – if one can call it – demands such ignorance of the earlier films that you have to wonder if the four (yes, that’s right, four) writers have ever even seen a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film before. I mean fair enough, I can understand wanting to pretend that Leatherface and The Next Generation don’t exist – heck, I do that all the time – but to ignore the comic genius of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is just inexcusable. Worse than that though, this sequel doesn’t even make sense. Let’s have a mathematics lesson…

Ok, so 2013 minus 1974 is 39, unless I’m very much mistaken. This means that Heather, our main character, is 39 years old. Simple stuff, right? Well, no, not exactly. You see, the writers of this clunking monstrosity seem to think that 2013 minus 1974 equals a scantily-clad, 20 year-old woman with a decent pair of tits, because that’s what horror audiences want, isn’t it? Yeah, that’s we want; let’s ogle the defenceless woman while some wanker with a chainsaw tries to cut her up. Yeah, mmm, that’s what makes a good film! Oh wait…

I mean, come on; is it really so hard to make a sequel that fits in with the series’ already established mythology? I don’t think it is but then, that was never the intention was it? No, the intention was to make a dull, generic, lifeless horror film that ensures an audience for itself purely by commandeering its title from a classic franchise. There is fuck all to distinguish Texas Chainsaw from any other slasher film released in the last 30 years. Take Leatherface out of the equation and you’re left with a barren shell of a film, in which pretty young men and women are slaughtered in the most unimaginative manner possible and in which the audience is taken through the motions of a plot so predictable, cynical and dull that it left me feeling utterly infuriated.

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Even if we ignore all of the earlier films, however, Texas Chainsaw is still abysmal. I mean, for a start, Texas Chainsaw what? What does the title even mean? Texas Chainsaw 3D? No, I watched it in 2D. Texas Chainsaw 5? No, it ignores 2 – 4. Texas Chainsaw Goes to Washington? Texas Chainsaw: The Empire Strikes Back? Texas Chainsaw… Is a Complete Crock of Shit? Yeah, I think that’s about right. Whatever it means, it’s just dire. It is a film without a single redeeming quality. The characters are one-dimensional, the performances are miserable, the attempts to recreate scenes from the first film are pathetic (I’m starting a petition to ensure that the cinematographer never works again), while the kill sequences are terribly bland. The unforeseeable twist – which everyone saw coming – is like a rip-off of Halloween 4 combined with Scream 3, and the script is laughably bad; “Welcome to Texas motherfucker”? He’s never left Texas you gobshite! Argh!

I think I might have to bring this review to its conclusion soon before I have an aneurysm. Before I do though, let me tell you what depresses me most about this film. It’s not the awful performances, the incompetent direction, the pitiful script or the utter lack of terror. It’s not even that it ignores the later films in the series or that it treats Leatherface like an anti-hero for no reason whatsoever. No; it’s that Tobe Hooper was an executive producer… that means he must have said “oh yeah, please, take a shit all over my legacy, I don’t mind”. That, above all else, is what I find so unbearably crushing.

What a fucking travesty. I know I go on a lot about the death of decent horror cinema but seriously, can you blame me when they constantly churn out trash like this?

One final point:
Budget: $20,000,000
Box Office: $47,241,945

Fuck you humanity. Fuck you.

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