As a huge fan of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (who isn't?!), I was incredibly excited when I first heard the concept for this film. Rather than being in any way connected to the new reboot franchise that began in 2003 (which I loved, by the way), Chainsaw 3D was being billed as a direct sequel to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which immediately piqued my interest. I mean come on, how could it not?
And then the trailer hit, and the worry began to set in. Rather than looking like a direct sequel, as we were promised, Chainsaw 3D suddenly looked like nothing more than another remake, set in the present day and with no discernible connection at all to the original. I wondered if the whole 'direct sequel' thing was just a way to lure in fans, and trick them into seeing what was truly just another remake. Kinda like what they did with that Thing 'prequel' a couple years back, which at the end of the day was really nothing more than a remake. Had me fooled!
So then, is Chainsaw 3D merely a cleverly disguised remake, or does it truly live up to its promises? And more importantly, is it any good? Well hold your horses, I'm getting to all that!
Let's back up a second and talk plot first...
Texas Chainsaw 3D kicks off with a bang, with one of the coolest pre-title sequences of all time. The opening credits play out over highlights from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, converted to 3D, including all of the kills and the escape of Sally at the end of the film.
The movie then picks up directly after the events of the original, and we see Drayton Sawyer (played by Bill Moseley), Leatherface, Grandpa (played again by John Dugan!) and a whole bunch of other family members we've never seen before (Gunnar Hansen cameo!) holed up in the iconic Sawyer family farmhouse, surrounded by cops. Just as the family is about to give up Leatherface, and end their fight, a vigilante gang shows up and kills the whole family, before burning the house to the ground. The only survivor of the massacre, aside of course from Leatherface? A little baby girl, who one of the vigilantes adopts.
From there, it's onto the present day. The baby girl (Heather) is all grown up, and after her grandmother passes away, she inherits her mansion. Only problem is, she's also inheriting something else. Or should I say, someone else. Turns out ole Leatherface is alive and well, and he's now the property of Heather. But she doesn't know that just yet, so she heads out to the mansion with a couple of good looking friends of hers (and hey, one of them wears skimpy red shorts, and they drive an old school hippie van!), and I think you can figure out what happens from there. Cue the bloodshed!
Since Chainsaw 3D is more or less laid out in three separate parts, let's take a look at those parts on an individual basis.
First, we've got the aforementioned opening sequence, which takes place in 1973, directly after the Chainsaw murders seen in the original film. This whole sequence is totally awesome, and is guaranteed to bring a big ole smile to the faces of all hardcore Chainsaw fans. A great job was done in making that sequence feel like it was actually taking place right after the original movie, which is totally commendable and a real treat for Chainsaw die hards like ourselves. It's not often that we get to see what happens after our favorite movies, as that sort of stuff is normally left to our imaginations, so it was really cool to see that post-massacre fan fiction come to life. Also must say that the 3D conversion of the clips from the original was surprisingly well done, and looked quite impressive. Only thing I didn't like was that they replaced Jim Siedow in those clips with Bill Moseley, though I totally understand why that was done. So we'll let it slide.
The second part of the film is a straight up slasher, which takes place in the present day. It's at this point in the movie where the biggest problem of the whole shebang presents itself, and I can't help but wonder how the hell such a big mistake was overlooked. Though I'd imagine the filmmakers just took us for fools, and figured we wouldn't notice.
So the events in the beginning of the film, where the baby is taken away from the Sawyer home, are of course taking place in 1973, right after Sally, her invalid brother and those other folks had their idyllic summer afternoon drive turned into a nightmare. We then cut to the present day, and Heather is played by Alexandra Daddario, who is 26 years old, and doesn't look a day over that. If you do the math, according to the timeline, Heather would be nearly 40 years old in 2012, when the majority of the film takes place. So yea, that really makes absolutely no sense, and I can't for the life of me figure out why they didn't just set the 'present day' events of the film somewhere in the '90s, to make it all work better. The weirdest part of all of this is that there was no reason for the film to be set in 2012, and we only realize that it even is through glimpses of modern day cell phones and a tombstone that reads 2012. So the film wouldn't have been affected in any way by setting it in a time that would make the timeline actually make sense. Mind boggling, really.
But once ya get past that epic stroke of stupidity, this second piece of Chainsaw 3D is actually highly entertaining, a straight up blood soaked slasher where Leatherface makes his way through Heather's friends, one by one. Virtually no time is wasted between introducing the characters and having Leatherface kill them, which is both a good thing and a bad one. It's good because there's never a dull moment, and the action is fast paced and exciting, and it's bad because we never form any sort of bond with any of the characters. But hey, this is Heather's story more than anything else, so whatever. Her friends are just bodies for Leatherface to chop and saw up, and he does just that, backed by some pretty awesome practical FX (KNB!). Me gusto.
From there, the fun slows down a bit and Chainsaw 3D heads into some very interesting territory, which is likely to turn off many who were invested in the film up until that point. I don't want to spoil anything about the latter portions of the film, but things get pretty weird and admittedly a tad bit corny. That being said, at least for me personally, it all works, and it all fits in line with stuff established in the original. So yea, can't say much more than that, but I totally dug the unexpected path the film traveled down towards the end, and I very much admire the originality and ballsiness of the final moments. It gets so bonkers that ya kinda can't help but love it, at least if you've got an open mind.
It's funny because even though I personally quite enjoyed the movie, and have a whole lot of admiration for it doing something different and not just being another slash 'em up remake, I can completely 100% see why anyone would feel the complete opposite about the movie. If you leave the theater rolling your eyes, I completely understand. But what I've always loved about the Chainsaw films is how they were always totally different takes on Leatherface and his family, and this film very much feels like one of those off the wall sequels that would've been made back in the day. It fits perfectly within the franchise, and I'm actually kinda even surprised that this movie made it to theaters, being that it is such a fan service kinda movie. I'd imagine most people going into the theater expected that this would be a continuation of the Massacre they saw back in 2003, and I give Lionsgate and all involved a whole lot of credit for taking a chance on something a whole lot more ambitious.
Ambitious is really the name of the game here. Chainsaw 3D is a totally ambitious little film, and though it doesn't all work, I had a lot of fun with it, and I appreciate it greatly for having a big ole set of cojones. It feels more than anything like a big budget Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan film, made by and for the hardcore fans, and I can only hope that others are able to look past its flaws and appreciate it for being a ballsy little bit of fan service. But again, if ya can't, I more than understand.
There has yet to be an installment in the Chainsaw franchise that I haven't found some merit in, and Chainsaw 3D is no exception. Is it the best the franchise has to offer? No, it's not. But it's ultimately an admirable effort that is both entertaining and very interesting, and for that I respect and dig it. And again, huge props to all involved for going all the way back to the continuity of the original, even after a remake and a prequel to that remake were released, and props also to Lionsgate for taking a chance on such a unique concept. Gotta appreciate that, even if you hate the movie.
And hey, even if you do totally hate it, and think it's a piece of shit, I promise you'll at least get a kick out of the first 5-10 minutes. So there's that!