Texas Chainsaw 3D is the newest “official” sequel in a long line of sequels, prequels and reboots in one of the pre-eminent Slasher film series of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This particular movie picks up right where we left off in the first film, making it a sequel/soft-reboot combination, similar to Evil Dead 2, or The Incredible Hulk. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end, seeing as one of those is comedy-horror, and the other is Super-hero Action. Texas Chainsaw 3D falls pretty well into the slasher-horror genre, or as my father calls it, a “spooker“, where we see a bunch of stupid young people make a bunch of stupid decisions that get them very, very dead.
Since this is one of mine and my father’s favourite genres, we usually see this type of movie together, in theatres. It’s a tradition that goes back to the late 80s or early 90s. Over the years, a formula of sorts has been developed. Of course, when dealing with this kind of movie, you shouldn’t be expecting high-art. I’m not saying there aren’t artistic horror films. There are several. Having a critically acclaimed spooker is an anomaly, and should be regarded as such. In order to be successful as a spooker, a movie must really only pass Dad’s three question test:
- Is it a jumper? Did it make you jump, if so, how many times? No-Jumper is a piss-poor waste of time. A One-Jumper showed up to the party. A Two-Jumper is a very enjoyable experience, and has done well. Three-Jumper is fantastic, and very rare. I don’t think there’s ever been a Four-Jumper, I certainly couldn’t name one.
- How’s the gore? Is there a lot of it, and what kind? Describe it… Is it Tense? Gross? Funny? CGI? Fake-looking? Realisic? Cringe-worthy?
- How stupid is it? How stupid are the character’s choices, and do they at least make a little bit of sense, most of the time? More importantly, how stupid are the film-makers? Do they show you a car driving off a cliff, only to see there’s no engine or drivetrain in the car?
If a film can pass most of these questions, then it has succeeded in landing itself a place in the pantheon of films known as “Pretty Good Spookers“.
Now let’s take a look, and see how Texas Chainsaw 3D fared, shall we?
Is it a jumper?
I can freely admit to being a bit jumpier than the old man. While they may have only gotten him once, they got me fully twice, and almost got me twice more. The use of 3D only contributed to one of these jumps. The biggest jump, was the first jump, which I didn’t see coming at all. Leatherface hadn’t even been freed when they got me the first time. This point was also Dad’s big jump. Leatherface attacking his second vicitm was my second jump. I don’t remember when my first half-jump was, but both myself and the old man scored a half-jump at the chainsaw toss. We saw it coming, but we still flinched our heads a bit at the use of 3D in that situation.
How’s the gore?
Dad and I are in perfect agreement here. When it was used, the gore was fantastic. It looked wet, sloppy and meaty. They didn’t pull many punches, either. You get to see a guy mowed in two, fingers clipped off a severed hand, a leg mowed off a body, just for shits and giggles… and that’s just some of it. Face peeling, meat grinders… honestly, I thought when it was used, the gore was fantastic. The trouble lies in the fact that there’s 92 minutes to fill here, and too much of it is spent setting up the story, or teasing the men with Alex Rousseau from Lost, and the heavily stacked Alexandra Daddario. When all is said and done, and the credits are rolling, you can’t help but be left with the feeling that there should have been more people killed.
How stupid is it?
This is always the most difficult question. Unlike the first two, this question is a bit more subjective. Personal experience comes more into play. For example, in general I’m able to forgive more car-related stupidity than the old man is, but he doesn’t notice when computer-hackery is just ludicrous. Computers don’t factor in here at all, and the stupidity that takes place is pretty average for a spooker. In some ways, it’s actually above par. For instance, Hooty McBoobs runs out of the house when scared, instead of the oh-so-common-stupidity of running upstairs. Then again, she runs and hides in an open grave, so she”s a bit of a push on the stupid meter. Later, she tries to escape by holding onto a Ferris Wheel, going full circle round and ending up in absolutely no better shape for her effort. And she didn’t know that guy was the other guy’s Dad… Yeah, I guess she’s dumb as a brick…
Anyway, the story itself tries to twist things up a bit in the second half, making Leatherface much more of a tragically flawed protagonist, than manic loony psycho. While this change in focus doesn’t exactly make a lot of sense, it’s not the stupidest turn of events to ever take place in a horror movie. In the case of the old man, he actually found it to be a refreshing take on things.
I personally found the focus shift leaning more to the stupid side of the fence. I reconciled it quickly though, because I was too busy laughing at her thought process.
The interesting thing about our reaction to this movie, is that we both heard absolutely terrible things about it before hand. Normally we have a very limited idea of what a spooker we go see will be like. Most of the time the judgement is based solely off a TV trailer, or a theatrical trailer from the last movie we saw. Of course trailers don’t mean shit, and you can’t really trust the opinion of too many others when it comes to this kind of movie. But when you both hear about how it’s a pretty piss-poor attempt at a Texas Chainsaw movie, knowing full well how bad a bad Texas Chainsaw movie can be (I’m lookin’ at you, Wooderson)… expectations run pretty low. Maybe that’s got a lot to do with why we enjoyed it as much as we did…
I think Two-Jumper is pretty dead on accurate for this movie. I jumped more than the old man did, whereas he found it to be much less stupid than I did.