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edge staff writer


Texas Chainsaw Massacre' gets a requel'

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Film tries and fails to reinvigorate classic franchise

Few genres inspire multiple franchise offerings quite like horror. There are the big ones, of course series such as 'Friday the 13th,' 'Halloween' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street' but almost every horror film that has experienced even a modicum of success has produced a number of increasingly terrible sequels/prequels/reboots.

For instances, we have the new 'Texas Chainsaw 3D' film; did you know that this is the seventh (!) installment of everybody's favorite chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface?

This latest offering is something that you might call a 'requel;' it essentially picks up in the aftermath of the original 1974 film the opening moments of the film are even pulled from archival footage showing the ending of that first movie.

'Texas Chainsaw 3D' picks up the story from there; we see the bullet-riddled, firebombed aftermath when the denizens of Newt, Texas mete out their own form of lynch mob justice on the crazed family. Despite the best efforts of Officer Hooper (Thom Barry, TV's 'Cold Case'), the Sawyer homestead is burned to the ground. However, one of the vigilantes finds an infant that had been saved by its mother and takes the baby home to satisfy his wife's desire for a child.

Flash forward to present day; Heather Miller (Alexandria Daddario, 'Hall Pass') is working at a grocery store when she receives a letter from a Texas lawyer telling her that her grandmother has died and she is the sole beneficiary of her estate. Believing her grandparents to be already dead, she confronts her parents and discovers that she was adopted.

Her boyfriend Ryan (rapper Trey Songz) agrees to join her on a trip to Texas to meet with the executor of the estate, along with her friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde, 'Blue Like Jazz') and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez, 'Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy'). They make their way to Newt and Heather's palatial new mansion, where they discover that the house and indeed the whole town hides a horrifying secret.

In short, a whole lot of people get chainsawed.

In theory, this isn't a terrible idea. Going back and pulling footage from the original movie (featuring Northeast Harbor resident Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface, no less) in order to create a new direction for the franchise is kind of an inspired move especially considering the tongue-in-cheek trainwreck that was 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2' but the execution just isn't there.

One of the things that make characters like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Leatherface work is their mystery; we don't need to know why they want to murder everyone, we just want to see them hacking and stabbing away. Once filmmakers start delving into the development of backstories for these characters, it all falls apart. They are scary because they are immutable forces of nature; the audience's lack of understanding about these characters is kind of the point. We want plot devices, not people.

Of course, it doesn't help that the film is littered with unlikeable characters. It's hard to be too concerned about the well-being of these people because, well they're boring idiots. Without any sort of connection to the characters, we feel nothing when they meet their respective gruesome ends.

'Texas Chainsaw 3D' is a film littered with terrible people and inexplicable motivations. There's plenty of gore, obviously, and a few startling moments, but it's remarkably not-scary for what is ostensibly a horror movie. And it's too bad, because again, the basic concept could have worked. Alas, they got it backwards they spent too much time trying to fully realize the bad guy and not enough on the rest of the cast.

But hey if you're a fan of people getting sledgehammered, meathooked and/or chainsawed, then this is the movie for you.

1 out of 5


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