Watching “Texas Chainsaw 3D,” the latest screen incarnation of the iconic chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface, the mind fairly reels. This purported direct sequel to Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic cheerfully ignores that director’s own 1986 follow-up, the 1997 and 2003 remakes, the 2006 prequel and even its basic time line. It scores points for sheer brazenness.
But aside from its being an obviously loving homage to the original — even including 3-D-enhanced clips from it in the opening credits — there isn’t much to recommend this installment whose main point of originality is omitting the word “Massacre” from the title.
The opening sequence takes place directly after the final scene of Hooper’s film, depicting a Waco-like encounter in which the house containing Leatherface and his cannibalistic family burns to the ground with all its occupants presumably dead. Except for a baby, who is promptly adopted and, as we soon see, grows up in Oklahoma to be the beautiful Heather (Alexandra Daddario).
‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’
DIRECTED BY: John Luessenhop
STARRING: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson, Tania Raymonde and Paul Rae
RATED: R GRADE: D+
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
20 years later
Cut to roughly 20 years later, when Heather learns of her origins after being left at a Texas mansion by her late grandmother. She and her friends promptly head off in a van to check out her inheritance which, unbeknownst to them, is still the home of the hulking Leatherface (Dan Yeager).
The film’s first half follows conventional horror movie tropes as the heroine and her hottie companions — boyfriend Ryan (rapper Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson), BFF Nikki (Tania Raymonde), her new crush Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez) and a hunky hitchhiker (Scott Eastwood) — are pursued by the chainsaw-wielding inhabitant with predictably lethal results. But not before all of them bare as much skin as possible.
Things take a somewhat more complex turn later on when Heather finds herself in an unlikely alliance with her deranged relative against the town’s corrupt mayor (Paul Rae) and his minions. Leatherface is even given a rather sympathetic treatment, depicted as being something of a misunderstood, overgrown child whose propensity for tearing off his victims’ faces is but an extreme example of adolescent rebellion.
Director John Luessenhop (“Takers”) takes advantage of the 3-D by shoving blood spurts and the occasional chainsaw directly into viewers’ faces, but otherwise it has little impact other than to goose the box-office with those hefty surcharges. Unlike the restrained 1974 film which cleverly relied mainly on suggestion, this version piles on the graphic, often CGI-enhanced gore.them variety.