Texas Chainsaw 3D

Directed By: John Luessenhop

Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine Neverson (Trey Songz), Tania Raymonde, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, and Bill Moseley

Most bad movies just suck, but some can actually be fun to watch.  While I'm a man who believes that a few beverages with some kick can make any movie an enjoyable experience, some of the rotten ones are laughably bad all on their own.  It's been a while since I've seen a bad horror movie that I actually somewhat enjoyed, but the new year offers some change with Texas Chainsaw 3D, a direct sequel to the 1974 original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  In this latest installment in the gory series, director John Luessenhop goes back to the franchise's roots to try to rewrite horror history.  That's a big mistake, but a surprisingly fun one.

Picking up where the 1974 original film leaves off, Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) has just escaped the Carson farmhouse and alerts the authorities in Newt, Texas of the Sawyer family’s special boy Jed.  To the world, this mentally unstable young man is known as the demented murderer Leatherface (Sam McKinzie and Gunnar Hansen).  When the sheriff arrives at the farmhouse to arrest Leatherface, the Sawyers are ready to fight.  Tensions escalate quickly.  When Burt Hartman (Paul Rae) and his posse arrive, things spin out of control.  A bloody shootout ensues, and the Carson farmhouse is burnt to the ground.  Most of the Sawyer family perishes on this day.  August 19th, 1971 forever marks the massacre of the Sawyers.

Very few Sawyers survived the massacre on that fateful day in the summer of 1971.  Infant Edith Rose Sawyer is secretly taken by Gavin and Arlene Miller (David Born and Sue Rock), a couple that's having difficulty having a child.  She is raised by them and unaware of her true family heritage.  Today, her name is Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario).  Verne Sawyer (Burns), her grandmother by blood, has just recently died.  Somehow, she knows that Heather was taken as a baby by the Millers and leaves the rebuilt Carson estate to her.  Against her parents' wishes, Heather decides to go down to Texas along with her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz).  Their friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Carl (Scott Eastwood) also join them.  They all soon get a taste of Heather's bloody family heritage as a Sawyer because one of the other survivors of that August 19th massacre just happens to be Leatherface (Dan Yeager) himself.

Texas Chainsaw is a horror movie that does not even try to incorporate any semblance of coherence.  It's a film that advances every major plot development based on the notion that its main characters are profoundly stupid.  Director John Luessenhop and screenwriter Kirsten Elms completely drop the ball in this movie and make some really poor casting decisions.  Worst of all, Alexandra Daddario butchers a surprisingly rich character with a solid backstory by giving one atrocious performance.  Nonetheless, I still managed to have a little fun in this movie.  A few shots beforehand still would have helped.

I would love to have a horror movie where victims make smart decisions and are murdered because their killers have genuinely outwitted them.  It could certainly make for a much more engaging slasher flick.  Alas, that will probably never happen.  It certainly doesn't begin in Leatherface's latest outing because everything in Texas Chainsaw hinges on the notion that all these characters are blissfully stupid.  They pick up hitchhikers, they explore creepy basements, and they lock wooden doors as if that’s going to stop a man with a chainsaw.  They do everything that a person with common sense would not do.  If none of this happened, Luessenhop wouldn't have a story to tell.  As it stands, he still has nothing worthwhile to tell with Texas Chainsaw because a horrible story certainly isn't worth it either.

Luessenhop apparently doesn't understand basic math.  The massacre of the Sawyers takes place in 1971.  The present day of the film is some time in 2012.  The last time I checked, 2012 minus 1971 isn't 26.  With this in mind, why the hell did Luessenhop and his screenwriter Kristen Elms write a present day story about a woman who should be in her 40s and cast a 26 year-old actress?  Based on the timeline they’ve defined, the character of Heather Mills must be approximately 41 years of age.  That's just unacceptable idiocy.  To make matters worse, Luessenhop builds an entire story around the notion that Miller is a twenty-something in 2012 that was born at the beginning of the 1970's.  I can't dwell on this colossal failure because it will drive me insane.  The fact that Marilyn Burns, the hot young protagonist of the 1974 film, is playing a dying grandmother in this film says enough. 

The character of Heather Miller actually has some depth, but actress Alexandra Daddario fails to explore it.  She's a woman who's just learned that she's adopted and that her presumed last living blood relative has died.  As she gets to know the Carson estate, she gradually begins to realize that something bad happened on August 19th.  For a horror movie, this is a fairly complex character.  Heather Miller isn't some horny teen out for the weekend with her friends.  She's a person with real problems.  However, Daddario ignores all of this and does nothing to demonstrate how intriguing a character Heather can actually be.  Instead, Daddario's performance makes it abundantly clear that the 26 year-old actress is only in the film because of her physical assets.  Her performance does no favors for Texas Chainsaw.  Noticeably horrendous performances from her co-stars Trey Songz and Tania Raymonde certainly don't help the film either.

I have to admit that Texas Chainsaw tries to do something a little different with the storyline by turning our slasher into a perverted protagonist.  We always secretly root for the killer anyway, so I have no quips with this.  With poor storytelling, poor acting, and a litany of other issues, Texas Chainsaw just doesn't get the job done, and Luessenhop’s attempt at creative storytelling falls flat.  This horror flick is laughably bad. Years from now, it will be one of those historically bad movies that people come together to watch, and they'll definitely need some kamikaze shots to get through the movie.  You will too if you go check it out in theaters now.  Texas Chainsaw gets a wasted rating.  Happy New Year!