Rated R for grisly violence and language throughout
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, digital download and on demand
“Texas Chainsaw” may be the seventh entry in the horror franchise developed by producer-director Tobe Hooper way back in 1974, but the plot is decidedly retro. Set immediately after the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” the action begins with law enforcement personnel and local vigilantes descending on the Newt, Texas, home of the Sawyer family. Outraged by grisly murders committed by Jed Sawyer (better known as “Leatherface”), the vigilantes burn the home to the ground, presumably killing everyone inside.
During the chaos, one vigilante (David Born) discovers a living Sawyer family baby and secrets it away. He and his wife raise the child as Edith Miller, never telling her about her bloody ancestry. It therefore comes as a shock when a twenty-something Edith (Alexandra Daddario) receives a letter telling her that she has inherited a massive Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew.
Intrigued, Edith and a group of friends travel to Texas even though her adoptive parents warn her to stay away. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before the group of young people run into a massive, chainsaw-wielding maniac.
Although entirely derivative, “Texas Chainsaw” starts as strong as any slasher film. The ties to the original picture are clever, and director John Luessenhop does a nice job setting the stage for pure carnage.
Unfortunately, the movie does not maintain its momentum in the second and third acts. The film also takes bizarre twists that call the morality of the entire project into question. While many horror films celebrate violence, most maintain a virtuous center. “Texas Chainsaw,” on the other hand, turns into a bizarre melodrama that proposes more than a few perverse ideas about justice and the strength of familial bonds.
The ideals that the screenplay seems to promote may not bother horror fans seeking cheap thrills, but they are a point of concern for anyone who believes movies should do more than titillate. Also noteworthy is the fact that the film is more disgusting than scary. Luessenhop spends a lot of time with gore and severed body parts, but he offers little suspense. Even the 3D elements of the movie (viewable only by those with a 3D Blu-ray player and 3D TV) are a letdown.
After such a promising beginning, it’s disappointing to watch “Texas Chainsaw” derail, but when it leaves the tracks it does so decidedly.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include a feature on the “Texas Chainsaw” franchise, interviews with the filmmakers, behind-the-scenes shorts and multiple audio commentaries.
By Forrest Hartman