This year, in an attempt to both see more films and improve my skills writing movie reviews, I have made a goal to try to see a new movie in the theater every weekend. As a result I found myself in the unfortunate situation of having to see a movie on a week in which the only new release was Texas Chainsaw 3D. Since common knowledge dictates that you should already know this is a terrible, nonsensical mess of a movie I’m going to go ahead and spoil the crap out of it with this review. The reason for this is twofold: first, you should have no intention of seeing this film, so spoiling it should be a moot point; and second, there’s a twist of sorts that occurs in the latter half of the film, and it’s only after this that the film starts to crash and burn in spectacular fashion. If, however, you are dead set on avoiding spoilers for this movie for any reason now is the time to leave.
All right, with that out of the way, let’s jump in. So this film quickly establishes itself as a direct sequel to the original 1974 film and, in the process, erases all the previous sequels and reboot films from the canon. The film opens with a montage of clips from the original movie, before establishing a scene that takes place just after its ending. The police close in on the estate of Leatherface’s inbred hillbilly family and the sheriff attempts to persuade the Sawyer family to surrender Jeb to him, promising him a good lawyer and a fair trial. Right as the Sawyers are preparing to accept these terms, a mob of disgruntled rednecks surrounds the house, showering it with Molotov cocktails and gunfire. There’s an exchange between the sheriff and the leader of the assault on the house in which some painful cliché about “the good book” is delivered as a verbal Chekhov’s gun so that it can be ironically repeated at the end of the film. In the midst of all this, one of the rednecks finds a young woman with a baby who had escaped the inferno. He kicks the woman in the face and takes the baby because this is a movie that feels like it was written by a 15 year old, and then the man takes the baby back to his wife who proceeds to ask if they can keep it as if it were a puppy. At this point I started weeping silently to myself, realizing that there was still 80 minutes of the film left.
The film then cuts to a year that fluctuates between 1994 and 2012 because the film tries for a bit to be a period film before deciding it doesn’t care anymore and switching to the present day. We are then re-introduced to the baby who is now 40 but looks like she’s 26 and is named Heather. She works in a deli slicing meat and, in her spare time, makes paintings that incorporate chicken bones, because foreshadowing. She also has sex with her boyfriend who may also be 40 and look 28, but is probably just 12 years younger than her. One day, Heather gets a letter explaining that the Grandmother she didn’t know about just died and left her a house in Texas. So she and her boyfriend find a few other people to round out the obligatory group of horror movie clichés that The Cabin in the Woods already thoroughly dismantled. They all hop in a van and head to Texas. Along the way they run over a hitchhiker who forgives them because they have beef jerky.
Once they arrive at the house, a man who looks like a live action version of The Rich Texan fromThe Simpsons shows up and gives Heather a ring of keys and a letter that he says about eight times is extremely important. He then enters a passcode to let them in the gate and onto the property. They go inside the house which turns out to be a southern plantation style mansion and Heather promptly forgets about the letter meaning the movie gets to drag on for another hour. The guy they ran over and fed beef jerky to volunteers to bring their stuff into the house while the rest of the group goes off to get food from the local grocery store. No one thinks twice about leaving someone they’ve only known for a day alone at the fancy mansion because he likes beef jerky so he couldn’t possibly be bad?
At the store we learn that Heather’s boyfriend is cheating on Heather with Heather’s slutty friend which means, by the movie’s logic, we can be okay with them dying now. Heather’s slutty friend’s actual boyfriend dies too, but I can’t remember if the movie even bothers trying to find a moral justification for it. Anyway, before anyone in the love rectangle dies we cut back to the house where Beef Jerky Kid is stealing all the silverware, which doesn’t make a lot of sense because you don’t need silverware to eat beef jerky, but whatever. He’s really excited over finding the door that belongs to the really big key on the key ring possibly because he thinks there might be jerky behind it. Turn’s out he’s right, but the jerky is of the people variety, not beef, and it’s being prepared by Leatherface who’s now at least 60 years old by the film’s timeline (I’m not sure if he also looks 15 years younger because he’s wearing someone else’s face, although to be fair the face is pretty wrinkly). Jerky Kid gets to live up to his name and dies while the rest of the group heads back from the store.
When they come back they realize that the keys are missing and all the silverware is gone, but they don’t care too much because there’s still a pool table and they brought pot, so that’s all anyone really needs. Meanwhile, Heather goes up stairs and realizes that her “birthmark” (a birthmark that’s obviously a scar to anyone with eyes) is really a scar from her mom’s Sawyer family necklace. The scar is also conveniently located on her breast giving her an excuse to do her favorite thing by making sure that her shirt just barely covers her nipples and nothing else. She also looks in a mirror so the film has an excuse to do a jump scare with a mirror. This is the cutting edge of horror, guys.
Anyway, back down stairs, Slutty Girl’s real boyfriend finds Leatherface’s door and enters it because he thinks there might be booze, he walks in on Chef Leatherface preparing the catch of the day. Turn’s out Leatherface doesn’t like to be disturbed while he’s cooking so he stabs Slutty Girl’s boyfriend with a meat hook. I take back what I said earlier, disturbing the chef is a totally justifiable reason for murder.
While all this is taking place Slutty Girl and Heather’s boyfriend sneak out to the barn to have sex. In the mean time, Heather comes downstairs to find Leatherface preparing the appetizer in the kitchen (the real upstairs kitchen, not the dark downstairs kitchen with the meathooks and chainsaws). Leatherface, who is extremely annoyed for getting interrupted while cooking twice in the same night decides to simply smack her instead of stabbing her because she’s the protagonist.
She wakes up a little later and Chef Leatherface shows her results of his hard work. She’s not impressed and runs away screaming. Leatherface, who simply cannot take any more culinary insult grabs a chainsaw and begins chasing after her. She ends up hiding in a coffin on the family plot because that’s the most logical place to hide when you’re in a horror movie, and then Leatherface points his chainsaw at the camera to make all the 3D glasses wearing morons in the audience scream. About this time Heather’s boyfriend and Slutty Girl stop having sex and decide to shout at Leatherface. He forgets that there’s a girl right in front of him that he’s already trying to murder and instead starts to chase after them. They run into the barn again, Heather hops in the van, and the three of them try to escape, but end up crashing into a gate allowing the other two to die while Heather gets away.
She runs to a carnival where Leatherface follows her and instead of trying to kill any of the dozens of other people at the carnival who have now seen him, he goes specifically after Heather. An attractive young police officer shows up and Leatherface runs off.
Later at the police station Heather gets to flip through an evidence file and we get to watch the whole opening scene of the movie again, although this time the bad dialogue is replace by giant close-ups of newsprint that fill the screen one word at a time. This goes on for about ten minutes.
At the same time the mayor, who happens to be the leader of the redneck posse from the beginning of the movie, comes into the police station and starts ordering police officers around. The sheriff is there, but he doesn’t do anything about it because the screenplay said he can’t. The mayor gets on a FaceTime call with one of the police officers at the Sawyer house so that the movie can have a pseudo-found footage scene and be hip and edgy like those Paranormal Activity movies all the kids are talkin’ about. The police officer finds Slutty Girl in a freezer and shoots her in the head when he’s startled, giving the film its justification for killing him.
Back at the police station, Heather has had a giant text induced change of heart, and realizes that the townsfolk are really the bad guys and that Leatherface is actually a misunderstood hero, despite killing three of her friends, a police officer, and a kid who really liked beef jerky.
I’m not making this up. This is the film where they try to sell Leatherface as a good guy.
Anyway, Heather meets up with The Rich Texan and she finally reads the letter from her grandmother which explains that the trick to preventing Leatherface from murdering you is shouting loudly “I’m your cousin!” This is a detail I’m sure that many of the characters from the last five movies wish they had known. However, before she can say it, the Mayor, Attractive Cop (who turns out to be the Mayor’s son) and Townsperson #4 make a heel-face turn into mustache twirling villainy. This is especially impressive since none of them actually have mustaches (Townsperson #4 does, but he’s mostly just a crony). The three of them take her to a slaughter house where they’re going to kill her because they’re evil and that’s what evil people do. In the meantime, Leatherface who’s really not evil, no sir, hears over a police radio that Heather is being taken to the slaughter house. He then puts on a tie and goes to save her. Let me repeat that, Leatherface puts on a tie. I’m intentionally making this film sound funnier than it is, but the reality is it’s mostly just boring and stupid. Leatherface wearing a tie, is one of the few moments of entertainment this movie has to offer. Anyway, where was I?
Ah yes, Heather is about to be murdered in the slaughter house, but then Letherface shows up, Heather says the magic words, and then the two of them are best pals. The Mayor and Townsperson # 4 show up and start trying to beat Leatherface to death. Heather suddenly thinks she’s in an action movie and says an awful one-liner and tosses a chainsaw to Leatherface. Leatherface then kills his assailants and lives happily ever after with Heather. The police sheriff witnesses the whole thing, by the way, but decides he’s willing to risk having two murdering psychopaths in his town just so that he can ironically repeat the cliché the Mayor said to him at the beginning of the film.
Later that night, Leatherface and Heather share a moment in the kitchen (again, the real upstairs kitchen, not the other one) where she wipes blood off of the face he’s wearing and the two look longingly into each other’s eyes. I’m convinced there was an incestuous kiss that was left on the cutting room floor.
In case it wasn’t apparent from my extended summary, this movie was abysmal. It had all the things you would expect from a movie coming out the first weekend of January: awful ham-fisted dialogue, flat, uninteresting characters, general lack of care involved in the making of the film, etc. What surprised me, though, (and not in a good way) was the absurdly misguided decision to try to make Leatherface a hero. I mean seriously! What were they thinking? The idea of trying to make some kind of anti-hero out of a horror villain isn’t patently a bad one given the genre and what people are looking for in it, but it would require a much more interesting film in order to pull it off, and using an iconic horror villain like Leatherface, is probably not the way to do it.
One thing I did notice that was kind of interesting is that the film is deliberately set during Halloween of 2012. This leads me to believe the film was originally intended to be a release for October of last year, but Lionsgate got embarrassed and decided to try to sneak it out on the first weekend of 2013 and hope everyone would forget about it by the end of the year.
This is just a bad movie, and not even a funny-bad movie. Stay far away from it.
That being said, if they were to follow the idea of this film through to its natural conclusion and create a spinoff sitcom starring Leatherface and Heather I would absolutely watch it every single week.