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May 25, 2013

8

Texas Chainsaw

by Franz Patrick


Texas Chainsaw (2013)
★ / ★★★★

Heather (Alexandra Daddario) receives a letter from a lawyer which states that her grandmother has passed away and she is required to sign some papers since she is next of kin. Confused as to what it all means since her grandparents have long been dead, she asks her parents about the matter and they reveal to her that she has been adopted. Curious about her origins, she goes to Newt, Texas along with Ryan (Trey Songz), her boyfriend, Nikki (Tania Raymonde), a friend from work, and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), a guy that Nikki is sort of seeing. It is not long until Heather is informed that she has inherited her grandmother’s mansion and everything inside it. Is it too good to be true? Of course it is.

“Texas Chainsaw” is a well-made horror movie. The direction by John Luessenhop is capable: he sets up the exposition with curiosity and the rising action with sufficient urgency. The camera moves with purpose especially when it comes to scenes in which a character cannot help but enter a dark room to see what is inside until it is too late.

The attacks are brutal. There is something about the sinister growl of the chainsaw that rattles the depths of my core. Couple that terrifying sound with the image of a potential victim within arms length of a serial killer wielding such a weapon, I wanted to scream at the prey to run because his or her life literally depends on it. I was somewhat disappointed that chase sequences do not last very long. After a person falls down twice–thrice maximum–it almost certain that it is game over.

Gorehounds’ thirst will be quenched. Blood is front and center, from hands being chopped off to a torso being cut into two. I could not help but flinch every time someone is sliced. I did somewhat enjoy–if that is the right word… perhaps relish?–Leatherface cutting off a man’s face and then later sewing it onto his own. Nothing much is left for the imagination.

The actors do a good job with their roles even though their characters are as dumb as bricks. They are not asked to do much other than to look really terrified when that chainsaw threatens to dismember them. The dialogue is standard and it certainly could have used more enthusiasm at times. For instance, if I had heard news of inheriting a mansion, I imagine I would not look so glum. In fact, I would probably be jumping up and down while sharing the news on Twitter and Facebook. Why not? One of the characters is shown using an iPhone as a flashlight to follow a trail of blood. (That is never a good idea, by the way.)

“Texas Chainsaw” is a well-made horror movie… but it is not well-written. Yes, this strange phenomenon happens once in a while and it is important that we recognize it. While I liked about half of it when taken as a whole, mostly during the build-up, the final third drops the ball completely.

Eventually, the screenplay by Kirsten Elms, Adam Marcus, and Debra Sullivan asks us to root for Leatherface, not the ones experiencing the pain and getting chopped into pieces. There is something about that which feels very wrong. With the way that is written on the script, it implies that murder is okay. While circumstances surrounding the killer’s background is there, not once do we get a chance to understand his psychology. There is an important but subtle difference. That is why a movie like Mary Harron’s “American Psycho” works and a movie like this does not.

I suppose credit must be given for trying something a little different with a franchise that has gone through its fair share of sequels. But credit is earned, not given. While I welcome any avenue that screenwriters wish to traverse, it must make sense with respect to its universe. And since this is a slasher film, not a fantasy, it plays by our rules–rules of “the real world.” Logic is a prerequisite. There is nothing logical about its final third.

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. GaryLee828
    May 25 2013

    The 3rd act really did fall apart by the seams, but even before that it followed a predictable beat-sheet to the tee…

    You’re saying that you thought it was good up until the 3rd act, but you also said you don’t like the way they tried to make the audience root for Leatherface, and that was established in the opening sequence when they tried to make the Sawyer family seem normal although in the original right where this one supposedly picked-up they had just tortured a girl and would have brutally murdered her if she had not escaped…

    So by attempting to make the Hartman family out to be the monsters and the Sawyers a sympathetic family is a faulty foundation to build a substantial story on…

    And then it only got worse and worse as it went along and delivered about every cliche in the horror book, up to the point it became comical…

    “Do your thing, cuz!” lol.

    Reply
    • May 25 2013

      God, every time I read that line it sashays around my brain EXACTLY as it was in the film. It gets that much funnier each time!

      [SPOILERS for those who haven’t seen it.]

      I didn’t think us caring for Leatherface, specifically, was established during the first scene. I admit that the writers didn’t do a very good job in actively setting their work against the franchise’s roots… but at the same time attempting to pay homage to it. For me, it became clear near the end, starting when one of the characters realized that, “Oh, this guy and his family were wronged by this town,” etc. Because the character’s motivation underwent a sudden shift, we–or at least I–began to think that way, too. And it didn’t feel right. I think it is because, while watching, I was seeing the story through this character’s eyes.

      Reply
      • GaryLee828
        May 25 2013

        I wonder WHY the Sawyers were wronged by the town!

        “Why does everyone hate me? Just b/c I dismember people with a chainsaw doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy! Just b/c we wheel around a corpse in a wheelchair doesn’t make me abnormal.” lol.

        Reply
        • May 25 2013

          Is it weird that I thought the hitchhiker guy ought to have had more screen time?

          Reply
          • GaryLee828
            May 25 2013

            No, you’re right – he should have had more purpose; just more bad writing. And wait, you told me last week that you liked this movie – but yet you rated it a “1” star? You must have really loved it!

            “This movie was just aces! That’s why I’m giving it a “1 out of 4”! lol.

            Reply
        • May 25 2013

          Hey, I never said I liked the movie. I said it was well-made. I wasn’t very specific but you had made the assumption. And I stand by it. :)

          Reply
          • GaryLee828
            May 25 2013

            Oh, I equated “It’s well-made” to you liking it…but you must not have thought it was too well-made to give it a 1. lol.

            Reply
            • May 25 2013

              Hahah! I //almost// gave it 2 stars. But then I thought, “Franz, just because you love the face implant scene SO MUCH, does not mean you should ignore what you really, really didn’t like.” I’d like to YouTube that scene and put it on my favorites. =X

              Reply

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