Heather (Alexandra Daddario), her boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine Neverson), and their friends Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez) are planning on taking a trip to New Orleans for Halloween when Heather gets news that a grandmother she never knew about passed away. She gets her grandmother’s house in Texas as inheritance but there’s one problem, a man who has a thing for chainsaws and sticking people on hooks is living in the basement.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the longest running slasher franchises out there. This is the seventh installment and it furthers the confusing continuity of the series. This ignores the second, third, and fourth films and pretends the reboot and its prequel didn’t happen, and instead takes place immediately after the original movie from 1974.
I think first I need to give a breakdown of my thoughts on the series as a whole. The first movie is a near masterpiece and is without a doubt one of the greatest films from the 70’s and one of the best horror films ever made. The second movie tried to depart from the gritty realism of the first and become a dark comedy; it failed miserably. The third movie brought back some of the best elements of the first film and was good while part four was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The reboot in 2003 wasn’t that good but I enjoyed its prequel quite a bit. This unfortunately joins the bad ones in the bunch.
This movie starts out with a ton of promise when we see the immediate aftermath of the first movie. Police officer Hooper (Thom Barry) arrives at the Sawyer house (the home where are the psychos are at, including Leatherface, the main villain of the series for those that don’t know) and as he begins to talk them into surrendering the townspeople arrive and open fire on the house, killing everyone inside. It’s a massacre that raises an interesting debate on the nature of violence. Was it justice or brutal murder no different than what the Sawyers do to the many victims of the franchise?
The movie runs with that idea for quite a long time and that combined with a very creepy setting and some pretty intense scenes gave this movie moments of greatness. All of the great buildup is ruined by about the ¾ths point in the film and it proves that a terrible climax can ruin an entire movie. There are some slight spoilers ahead but not nearly enough to ruin anything major in the movie if you decide to see it. If the movie would have presented Leatherface (Dan Yeager) and the townspeople as both bad for the violence they commit, that would have been some very thought provoking stuff, but instead the movie asks us to sympathize with Leatherface, a cannibalistic serial killer.
The film tries to turn him into a sort of anti-hero and while I admit that is a very brave decision it is a dumb one. Earlier in the movie we see Leatherface brutally butcher several of Heather’s friends. He tortures, dismembers, and tries to eat them. And because this is a direct sequel to the original there is no denying he is a cannibal that has committed atrocity after atrocity. There is a slight (a very very small one) hint of sympathy already with his character because he is mentally handicapped and if he was raised differently he wouldn’t be the monster that he is, but the fact is he is a brutal murderer and the movie doesn’t ask for some understanding, it asks us to root for him.
Ok there’s some pretty big spoilers for the end of the movie in this paragraph, so if you want to avoid them skip to the next one. Still here? Ok towards the end of the movie Heather learns she is Leatherface’s cousin and somehow this magically makes her forget he killed multiple people she cares about. She not only decides to save his life but actually accepts him and sort of teams up with him. If you at all have a rational explanation for that stupid choice please let me know because I think she might have an IQ lower than Leatherface.
Spoilers are done. When the movie is focused purely on scares, it does pretty well. There is never the level of horror or tension that the first film brings, but there are a couple moments of genuine thrills. Watching a giant man with a chainsaw chase people is always going to be pretty scary, and while I never jumped out my seat or anything the direction of the chase scenes was very good. It’s too bad that the script also has beyond stupid characters, an infidelity subplot that goes absolutely nowhere, and the entire massacre could have been avoided if A.) Heather read the letter her grandma gave her detailing there’s a fucking psycho in the basement or B.) characters weren’t so stupid and actually behaved like real people.
I feel like a lot of people will disagree with me on this but I thought the acting was pretty good all around. Malicki-Sanchez and Raymonde were the weak links, but besides them everyone was pretty good. Barry was good as a conflicted cop (who ultimately was perhaps one of the dumber people in the movie) and Paul Rae was good as the corrupt mayor Hartman. Tremaine Neverson was decent (I read in a review he’s a porn star, is that true?) and Yeager was a very menacing Leatherface. I thought Daddario was great, and even though she’s a dumb ass she gave a very committed performance. She played scared well and was able to give some crappy dialogue weight.
FINAL GRADE: The actual horror was pretty good and this might be the goriest in the series so far, but all of the good is lost when the screenplay takes a turn for the dumb and decides to make every character stupid. The acting and atmosphere was pretty great for the most part but there was just too many pointless subplots and too stupid to believe moments for this to be a good entry in the series. I give Texas Chainsaw a C-.
director: John Luessenhop starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Trey Songz, Scott Eastwood, Tania Raymonde rated: R synopsis: A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward. tomatometer: 19%; 43% (rotten.)