Picking up where Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) left off, John Luessenhop revs up Texas Chainsaw (2013) with some fresh young flesh and, for the loyalists, special guest appearances from four beloved cast members from previous instalments – including the original Leatherface himself. In the aftermath of the original’s bloodless slayings, a group of angry vigilantes take action against the evil Sawyer family when a terrorised young woman escapes from their house. Word of other murders soon spreads through the town and the Sawyer family home is burnt to the ground by outraged locals.
Decades later, a young woman named Heather (Alexandra Daddario) discovers that she has inherited a luxurious Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew she had. She’s reluctant to uncover her roots but with the support of her boyfriend Ryan (Trey Songz) and friends Nikki (Tanya Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sanchez) she sets off on a deadly road trip. Along the way, the group accidentally hit a young drifter (Shaun Sipos) with their car and offer to give him a lift. Upon arrival at the estate, Heather realises that she has inherited much more than a lavish property, when the roar of a chainsaw emerges from the mansion’s dank and deadly cellars.
Luessenhop is quick to prove his loyalty to the source material as he uses clips from Hooper’s original to set the scene. Following this, the shoot-out on the Sawyer home bookends the events of the original and the title sequence is used to form the division between the past and present. The young cast of Texas Chainsaw are pretty, physically perfect and freshly plucked from a catalogue of brainless teen stereotypes. There’s no believable chemistry nor dynamic between any of the characters and the dialogue is effectively meaningless. The horror of Hooper’s original came from its abhorrent filth, grittiness and realism, but all of that is completely lost here, replaced with high gloss, cleanliness and affluence.
Leatherface is as always alarmingly menacing and the thrill of the Chainsaw series normally lies in the chase. However, these scenes are exiguous. The second act shows promise as Heather and her friends attempt to escape, yet the thrills are short-lived and the horror somewhat diluted when it comes to the film’s third and final act. It’s a case of too many crooks spoil the plot, as secondary characters and authority figures suddenly form a bizarre alliance that flip circumstances almost beyond comprehension – the result swiftly becoming an eye-rolling bore.
High on gore yet short on tension, this futile addition to the Chainsaw cycle will do nothing other than disappoint fans of the original and newcomers, should hopefully be steered in the direction of Hooper’s brilliant supreme 1974 original. On the whole (or even in pieces), Luessenhop’s Texas Chainsaw is more of a bloody mess than a brave new massacre.