They say horror franchises never truly die, but even by that yardstick Texas Chainsaw has had a pretty impressive run.

We’ve had the original, sequels, remakes, Next Generations, Beginnings and now this – a reboot/sequel/re-imagining/whatever you want to call it.

It already managed to rustle up some pretty impressive numbers at the US box office, but as we know, box office does not mean quality – and this edit has plenty wrong with it.

But let’s be generous and kick off with what is right with it – namely the opening scenes and the plot set-up.

Rather than simply update the franchise, director John Luessenhop elects to try and connect this instalment to Tobe Hooper’s groundbreaking original, kicking the film off with an edited highlights package from the 1974 classic.

Now that’s fine and dandy as that’s a film we all know and love, and those highlights lead into an opening sequence that has the local sheriff and a bunch of rednecks surround the Sawyer house demanding Leatherface (or Jed as he is simply known here) comes out.

Before long things get out of hand with a mass shootout and the house being burned to the ground, and that seems to be that.

We then fast-forward to present day and join attractive youngster Heather (Alexandra Daddario), her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) and their pal Nikki (Tania Raymonde), who seem to be the usual sex-starved idiots populating films of this ilk.

Actually, that might be a bit harsh, but they are nothing we haven’t seen before.

Anyhow, out of nowhere Heather finds out that not only was she adopted, but that her biological gran has just died, leaving her a huge mansion in the sticks in the process.

The gang decide to make a road trip of it, heading to Texas to enable Heather to sign some paperwork, but wouldn’t you know, when they get there they find the house harbours a secret – of the chainsaw variety.

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I don’t want to talk too much about the twists and turns of the plot as the writers of this – step forward Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan and Kirsten Elms – clearly think they have come up with some a lot cleverer than it actually is.

In fact, there must have been some sort of collective brainfreeze on the part of the writers when it comes to character ages etc – the film is clearly meant to be set in modern day (mobile phones, the music etc), making it some 40 years after the original.

But nobody looks as though they have aged that much and in terms of the central characters – well, nothing adds up.

Anyway, carnage quickly ensues and I must admit, Leatherface did get in on the act a lot quicker than I expected him to.

And, truth be told, the on-screen gore is pretty neatly handled, with bodies sliced in half, skin being peeled from faces and plenty of chainsaw slicing and dicing.

So in the plus column we have the opening, the gore, a final girl that is very pleasing on the eye, and the welcome sight of Chainsaw alumni Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley and Marilyn Burns popping up in cameo roles.

But in the negative column we have a piss-poor script, a timeline that makes no sense and all the usual crap that surfaces in films of this sub-genre – in one chase sequence for example Heather manages to fall over not once, but twice.

We also, and it is my sorry duty to report, have a line that almost comes close to equalling the tear out your eyes/pour boiling water in your ears ‘Trick Or Treat motherfucker’ moment uttered by Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection.

I’m not going to spoil the fun and write it here, but if you don’t find yourself letting out a highly audible groan during an exchange in the film’s final showdown – well, you’re better than me.

Texas Chainsaw is not a disaster, despite what I write above, and there were times during the film when I did actually stray into ‘enjoying it’ territory.

It’s just that somebody really needs to tell the powers that be that this is a franchise that now needs to be left in peace.

 

EXTRAS: To their credit Lionsgate have gone to town here with some quality extras. As well as three commentaries there are eight featurettes (including one that looks at the franchise’s legacy) as well as an alternate opening

 

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.