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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Texas Chainsaw 3D

May 12th, 2013

Texas Chainsaw 3D - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out on 1974 and helped change the face of horror, if you pardon the pun. Fast forward nearly 40 years and the franchise is one of the longest running horror franchises of all time. However, the franchise has struggled to repeat its early success, either with critics or with moviegoers. Texas Chainsaw 3D is the second attempt to reboot the franchise in the past decade. Can they succeed where the previous sequels / remakes failed? Or is it time to retire Leatherface for good?

The Movie

The film begins in Newt, Texas right at the beginning with clips from the original movie showing Leatherface and the rest of the Sawyer family killing Sally's friends, but Sally escaping in the end. The sheriff arrives to arrest Leatherface, a.k.a., Jed. At first, the family refuses, but they eventually relent, but they make Sheriff Hooper promise Jed will get a good lawyer and a fair trial. However, by this time, the rest of the townsfolk arrive and they are not interested in a trail and set fire to the the Sawyer house and begin shooting everyone inside. Two people get out, a lady and her infant child. The lady was hit by gunfire and is bleeding to death so she doesn't get far. They are found by one of the men, Gavin, who takes the child, then kicks the lady to death. He and his wife, Arlene, raise the child as their own.

We fast forward many years and that child is Heather Miller. She and her friend, Nikki; her boyfriend, Ryan; and Ryan's old high school friend, Kenny, are planning a road trip to New Orleans. However, these plans are interrupted when she receives word that her grandmother died three weeks ago. She didn't know her grandmother was still alive. When she confronts her parents, she learns she's adopted. (This should come as a relief.) So instead of going to New Orleans, the four friends head to Newt, Texas, where Heather can collect her inheritance.

Along the way, the four friends pick up a hitchhiker, Darryl, because they want to prove they are dumb enough to be characters in a teenage slasher. To be fair, they thought they ran into him with their van. Once they get to Heather's new house, they are quickly met by the lawyer, who hands Heather the keys, the deed, and a letter from her late grandmother, Verna, which she doesn't read, despite being told by the lawyer twice. They are amazed at how big the house is. The four friends head off into town to get supplies, leaving a total stranger in the house... because they are morons. Darryl immediately starts stealing stuff, but it isn't long before he learns Heather wasn't the only member of the Sawyer family to survive the massacre.

Ugh. I don't know where to begin with this movie. I'm tempted to cut and paste's entry for bad and leave it at that. There's practically nothing in this film that works. To be fair, there are some good actors in the movie, including the two female leads, Alexandra Daddario and Tania Raymonde, but not only are the characters poorly defined, they are insultingly portrayed. Early in the movie, as they are walking up to the house Heather inherited, the camera follows behind the group and focuses on Nikki's ass. It's amazing how often her ass is the most prominent thing on screen; you could make a drinking game over it. It's clear what the filmmakers think of this character. No matter how much terror and carnage is supposedly happening on screens, the two female leads are required to show off more than a little skin. Some of the supporting characters were well-acted, and the film benefits from having Thom Barry and Richard Riehle in the movie, but even then they were underused. That's it for the parts that worked. There are a few good actors that have to deal with underwritten characters.

What's went wrong? Everything else. Problems start with the script. There are six credited screenwriters, three for the story and three for the screenplay, which is far too many. It would be nearly impossible for six people to get together to create a story with a unified vision. There's a lack of tension in the movie and the big twist, the film tries to portray Leatherface as the good guy and the townsfolk that killed the Sawyer family as the bad guys is completely laughable. The Sawyer family were serial killer cannibals. Trying to rewrite that to make Leatherface just a misunderstood good guy is too much to take. If you are a gorehound, there's plenty of that in the movie, but too often the filmmakers relied on jumpscares instead of genuine horror.

The Extras

There are a lot of extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray, including three audio commentaries. There are a ton of making of / behind-the-scenes featurettes that discuss various aspects of the film, from its legacy, to the 3D effects. If you loved the movie, then there's plenty to check out. However, I don't think a lot of people are going to love this movie.

Likewise, the technical presentation is better than the movie is. There's lots of fine details, strong colors, deep blacks. However, there are some scenes where it is a tad too dark and fine details are swallowed up by the shadows. There are some instances of aliasing and haloing, but they are mostly minor. The audio is even better than the video with good use of the surround sound speakers and an active bass, when called for.

The 3D is effective, and there are very few gimmicky shots, which is a pleasant surprise. On the other hand, maybe this film needed to be more gimmicky. There certainly wasn't enough tension of real scares to carry the movie.

The 3D Blu-ray is inexpensive at just $20, which is only 33% more than the DVD.

The Verdict

Skip it. This franchise has been around for a long, long time, but in that time, only one movie, the first movie is worth watching. If you are a fan of Texas Chainsaw 3D and really want to buy it, then the DVD and the Blu-ray Combo Pack are loaded with extras, while the latter is worth the extra $5. However, I strongly suggest just rewatching the first film.

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Filed under: Video Review, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Thom Barry, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Tania Raymonde, Richard Riehle, Alexandra Daddario, Marilyn Burns, Dan Yeager, Termaine 'Trey Songz' Neverson, Shaun Sipos