Review: Texas Chainsaw

txs_chainsaw_3packsDirected by John Luessenhop

Lionsgate DVD and Blu Ray (2D and 3D), 27 May

Leatherface is at it again in yet another reboot of this long-running horror franchise.

I’ll get this out of the way straight off; I’m a huge fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper’s low budget masterpiece is a relentless nightmare of a movie that pulls no punches and makes no excuses. This new stab at getting the franchise back off the ground casts aside all the sequels and remakes since the first – and best – TCM, picking up directly after that one ended. In fact, it boils the original down into just a title sequence; the first of many missteps along the way.

When the events at the Sawyer family home in Texas come to light, Sheriff Hooper (Thom Barry) is dispatched to make an arrest. Unfortunately, the rednecks of Newt aren’t far behind and burn the place down, along with everyone in it. All except an infant who’s rescued and taken in by a childless couple.

Years later and now working in the butcher’s section of a supermarket – ho, ho – Heather Miller (Percy Jackson and White Collar’s Alexandra Daddario) finally discovers she was adopted when she’s told that her grandmother has died and left everything to her. Taking friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde from Lost) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), plus less than faithful boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) with her, Heather sets off to check out the family estate. Along the way they pick up hitchhiker Darryl (Shaun Sipos), whose only purpose seems to be to die horribly when they leave him alone at the house… after he’s tried to rob it. And that’s because Leatherface is still lurking, this time down in the cellar which Darryl unlocks.

Once our iconic villain is out, we’re in familiar territory once more, as he stalks Heather and her friends, making sure to thrust the chainsaw at the camera (this was released in cinemas in 3D) or even throw it across a fairground in one ridiculously OTT shot.

But it transpires that all Leatherface really wants is revenge on the people who killed his family – ahh, sweet really – and when Heather finally discovers the truth, will she fight him or join him?

Watching this film, you can’t help thinking that we’ve seen it all before a million times, not only in the TCM films, but also parodied so brilliantly in Cabin in the Woods. The only original and interesting aspects are the family connection, the fact that Leatherface is older now (though we’re never actually told the timescale – if the original happened in the 1970s, wouldn’t Heather be almost 40 if this was present day?), and the ham-fisted attempt to make you feel sorry for him. After what he did in the first movie? Come on… Although there is fun to be had spotting cameos from the original cast, like Marilyn Burns (Sally in TCM, now Verna Carson) and Gunnar Hansen (the first Leatherface, appearing here as Boss Sawyer).

There are also a fair few extras, including mini-docus like ‘Texas Chainsaw Legacy’ and ‘Resurrecting the Saw’, plus the usual commentaries – including one from the ‘Chainsaw Alumni’. For completists only I’d say, but after somehow hitting the number one spot at the box office, you just know there’ll be more to come…

Quite a saw point for fans of the TCM mythology 5/10

Paul Kane

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