Monday 25 January 2016

Texas Chainsaw: Mini Review...

What's it about?
A direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's legendary 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in which, after Sally Hardesty's escape, the Sawyer family - including an extended rabble of misfits coming along for family support - are burned alive in their home. It's 1973 and there's only one survivor - a Sawyer family baby - who grows up forty years later to be in her early twenties. Seriously. Lack of respect for the audience's intelligence and the horror genre in general aside, young 'Heather' is surprised one day to learn that her grandmother - whom she never knew - has died and left her an inheritance in (where else) Newt, Texas - where all the chaos happened in 1973. She and her friends go to investigate - guess what happens next.
Who would I recognise in it?
Alexandra Daddario, Tania Raymonde, Gunnar Hansen, Bill Moseley, Marilyn Burns, Scott Eastwood, Richard Riehle.
Written by Adam Marcus (the writer/director of the initially intriguing but ultimately lamentable Jason Goes To Hell), the film starts off strong - the attention to detail in re-staging the post-massacre location from the original film is impressive - with a non-Leatherface cameo from original chainsaw-wielder Gunnar Hansen, and Bill 'Chop Top' Moseley playing Jim Siedow's part as Sawyer patriarch Drayton. However, the strange tone of the film - in which the monsters are unconvincingly cast as victims to be sympathised with - becomes evident early on. Moving forward to the present day - from 1973 to 2013 - comes the film's major F-You to the viewers. It's not explicitly stated that it is present day - but the up-to-date hip-hop, vehicles, and (most blatantly of all) smart phones - makes the space-time continuum-breaking 2013 setting undeniable. As previously stated, but repeated for emphasis - the infant survivor of the 1973 lynching grows up FORTY YEARS LATER to be in her early 20s, in the shape of Alexandra Daddario (True Detective, Burying The Ex)...

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She and her gang of cardboard cutout friends - Nikki (Tania Raymonde, Lost), Kenny, and Ryan - set off to Texas for a road trip to discover what her inheritance amounts to. Along the way they pick up a hitchhiker (sounds familiar) who they then - in another example of the script's sheer idiocy - leave alone in Heather's newly-inherited mansion with all of its silverware. The mind-numbing stupidity doesn't stop there: Heather instantly forgets to read the very important letter that her lawyer explicitly demands she read right away, and a series of out-of-date horror tropes proves Texas Chainsaw is stuck in the past with no intention of spicing things up. Nikki turns out to be a one-note nymphomaniac, Kenny does nothing but cook steaks, and Ryan is the generic boyfriend, while characters obliviously wander into the creepy basement calling out someones name - even in the slasher movie heyday that was old hat!

Much like Heather, the miracle of eternal youth seems to have struck every resident of Newt, which encompasses a bizarrely inept Sheriff and a corrupt Mayor - among other former Sawyer family lynch mob members - who have it in for Heather and her bloodline. The scares are non-existent, the staging is weak, but the gore - provided by up-and-comers under the roof of KNB - is strong. Leatherface (Dan Yeager), on the other hand, becomes little more than a stumbling thug a mile wide of Hansen's terrifying, but considered, portrayal (which has to date never been beaten). Insulting to its audience, lazy in its storytelling and characterisation (and titling!), its few good points - good gore, a cool start, franchise cameos, hot chicks - are obliterated by sloppy pacing and a general sense of missing the mark as the film gets progressively dumber and dumber as it limps towards an unconvincing close. Starts good, but becomes shite ... all-said it's 'alright' to be kind.

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