Texas Chainsaw 3D poster

Twisted Pictures presents Texas Chainsaw 3D.

Directed by John Luessenhop. Written by Adam Marcus, Kirsten Elms, Debra Sullivan and Stephen Susco. Directed by John Luessenhop

Starring Alexandra Daddario, Trey Songz, Tania Raymonde, Dan Yeager, Scott Eastwood, Thom Barry, Paul Rae and Richard Riehle.

For a franchise that has been sequelized, bastardized and reinvented all in the same sentence, not to mention several movies, seventh entry Texas Chainsaw 3D is surprisingly not-bad. In fact, it's rather good, at least up until the final reel, when the story takes a wonky turn. But give director John Luessenhop and the writers their just desserts: after the withering of the once-promising "re-imagined" Texas Chainsaw Massacre of the 2000's, they pull off a pretty decent new tale here. And the now-cliche 3D ain't too bad, either.

Texas Chainsaw 3D will please fans of the series by including not only actors, but also sly references to elements, from previous Chainsaw installments. The VW van? It's in there, although a later model. The slaughterhouse motif? Check. Indeed, this film might claim the rights to being a direct sequel to Tobe Hooper's original, had his 1986 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 not gotten it so right the first time. But still, this movie does things right, and in a few instances, maybe a smidgen better.

Bill Moseley plays Drayton Sawyer this time!
The first thing that this film does well is to ignore the 2000's Chainsaw flicks. Sorry, folks; they were fun, and Andrew Bryniarski was great as Leatherface. But the whole Hewitt family reinvention just doesn't hold a candle to the Sawyers, truth be told. Instead, this film follows up the events of Hooper's original, and opening shots even include a collage of scenes from that film--retrofitted in 3D, no less--interspersed with new footage of how that film's ending was eventually resolved. Since the late Jim Siedow could not reappear as Drayton Sawyer, none other than Bill Moseley (who played the villainous Chop-Top in the 1986 film) steps up to fill the role during the prologue, which is very reminiscent of 2005's The Devil's Rejects shoot-em-up opening sequence. Moseley, it should be noted, also appeared in that film, but as a completely different character.

The prologue has the local Sheriff Hooper (Thom Barry) descend upon the Sawyer house with the demand that Jedediah (the murderous "Leatherface") be brought out to face arrest for his crimes. Drayton's reluctance raises the ire of local townsman Burt Hartman (Paul Rae), who has his posse of drunken locals shoot up and then torch the place, killing all of the Sawyers. One posse member discovers a young mother with an infant hiding in a nearby shed. He spirits the baby to his wife, who is unable to bear children, and they raise the daughter as their own.

Years later, the now-grown daughter Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who works in a grocery store cutting steaks several states away (aforementioned slaughterhouse motif!), receives a letter about a pending inheritance from a recently deceased grandmother. This is a shock to Heather, who now learns from her parents that she was adopted, and that she would do well to avoid anything to do with Newt, Texas. Coincidentally, she has planned to make a road trip to New Orleans just for funsies, with her African-American boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine "TreySongz" Neverson) and wily co-worker Nikki (Tanya Raymonde), plus Nikki's gourmet-cook new boyfriend Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez). They decide to augment the New Orleans trip with a stop in Newt. Along the way, they pick up Daryl (Shaun Sipos), a friendly hitch-hiker who later turns out to have selfish motives.

Arriving in Newt, they are met by Mr. Farnsworth (Richard Riehle), who is the executor of Verna Carson, Heather's recently deceased grandmother. He gives her the keys to the ancestoral manse, which proves to be a huge and stately home. Once the group drives back into town to purchase groceries for the night's housewarming party, leaving Daryl to his own devices, the con man begins to ransack the estate. Trouble is, upon discovering the Byzantine basement, Daryl is met by Leatherface (Dan Yeager), who has survived all these years and who makes short work of him. And once the others return, it's not long before the planned dinner party becomes a fight for survival.

The series' moral ambiguity is never more evident than here, where the case of accountability shifts from Leatherface and his crimes to that of the townspeople who shot up and burned his family alive lo those many years ago. But then, we're talking horror here, not your usual dramatic narrative. It's not the true sequel to Tobe Hooper's original; the director himself managed that in 1986, thank you. But this one does a commendable, if flawed, endeavor. Thanks to writers Adam Marcus (Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday), Kirsten Elms, Debra Sullivan and Stephen Susco for a decent job. And kudos for the 3D work. A chainsaw in your face never looked so good, and the retro-fitted 3D shots from the original film are rather magical.

It's particularly fun to see original Leatherface actor Gunnar Hansen as a new character during the opening sequence, with original Grandpa actor John Dugan reprising his same role in the same scene. Moseley fills in nicely for the late Siedow, and original heroine Marilyn Burns even turns up in a cameo later in the film. The timeline seems rather questionable, unless you retro-con the events of the original film to have occurred in about 1990. Texas Chainsaw 3D may almost fall into the trap of being a sequel/reinvention/studio 3D concoction, but it tries damned hard to be its own movie. In that regard, it more or less succeeds. These days that's a good thing.

Review by Petch Lucas, for Pitofhorror.com