Monday, 14 January 2013



Much as it's always best to keep an open mind and to be receptive to new ideas and new interpretations of iconic texts, there are occasions where you know, deep down, that it's not the best of ideas. You want to like it, you hope to like it, but even before it starts you know you're going to be disappointed and it's not even going to meet your already declining expectations. 2013 starts as we desperately hope it doesn't go on: a well below average gory slasher movie that has no interest in reinventing a genre icon for a new generation, has no interest in revitalising the slasher teenkill movie, and indeed has no interest in putting together a well-crafted and frightening horror film. Instead: let's just put a bunch of teens in a big house and have the big scary bogeyman chase them around with a chainsaw. In 3D.

There's really little more to Texas Chainsaw than this: it's a sort-of alternative sequel to Tobe Hooper's original film that pretends Hooper's own gore-drenched Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Jeff Burr's grim Leatherface and the McConaughey-Zellweger Next Generation twaddle never happened. Following straight on from the original, Sheriff Hooper (named in the kind of dazzlingly clever never-heard-that-one-before injoke that's been around for decades) is set to arrest Leatherface when a lynch mob of whooping good-ol'-boy Texas redneck arseholes show up and turn the place into a massacre. The sole survivor is a baby girl spirited away by a childless couple: about twenty years later Heather (Alexandra Daddario) suddenly inherits the sprawling estate of her previously unknown grandmother and travels down to the house with some friends, little knowing that there's someone else there, in the basement....

One by one they're picked off and brutally murdered with extra CGI blood effects and to absolutely no effect. The problem is not that it's so thuddingly unoriginal - we've seen homicidal maniacs chasing teenagers about with big sharp objects for more than thirty years), it's not even that there is not one single frame from start to finish with the merest echo of the raw nihilistic insanity of Hooper's original. (If you don't want your film to be compared to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, don't make a sequel to it.) It's not even that the 3D is entirely superfluous and pointless, and has only been used so they can occasionally jab a chainsaw at the camera. Hell, it's not even that the film's timeline doesn't add up: if Edith/Heather is about 20, that places the film in 1993, so where did ill-fated idiot Officer Marvin get his shiny videophone thing from? And if it's set now, then Heather and her chums should be about 40 (which they clearly aren't), and why haven't any of them got mobile phones?

No, the big problem is that this is a Texas Chainsaw movie that turns Leatherface into the good guy, despite his merrily hacking people up in the cellar and stitching their faces onto his own flesh: he's persecuted and victimised for what is basically mental illness while the "normal folk" are all yee-hawing morons in stetsons. It's a Texas Chainsaw movie that, shockingly, reminds you not just how devastatingly great the Tobe Hooper original was (courtesy of splicing in scenes at the start, and giving Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen cameo spots), but how much better Marcus Nispel's empty 2003 reboot was. And if a film makes you wish Marcus Nispel was directing it, something's gone very wrong indeed.


No comments: