Texas Chainsaw (John Luessenhop, 2013)
While I will stress that this is not a general recommendation, and that of this Tuesday’s slate of movies, Texas Chainsaw was by far the loser (the other three were all three and a half star affairs), I didn’t seem to hate it nearly as much as everyone else who saw it; I’ve heard it referred to more than once as the worst horror film of 2013. As someone who sat through Infected, Pandora’s Dawn, Zombie Massacre, and Spiders, and who knows I have only touched the tip of this particular iceberg, I’d be willing to bet it’s not even in the bottom ten. The main reason for this—possibly the entire reason for this—is Alexandra Daddario, on loan from the Percy Jackson franchise. She takes what is basically the ultimate in generic slasher-movie scripts and makes it into something halfway watchable. We’ll get this out of the way right now—okay, there is no way Alexandria Daddario, nor any of the other young-and-beautifuls in this movie, passes for forty (which is the age Daddario’s character needs to be if she was a baby in 1973—the movie does specify during one scene that it takes place in, or shortly after, 2012). Will you let it go already if you put it down to her character bathing in the blood of virgins or something? ’cause Alexandra Daddario is easily the best thing about Texas Chainsaw. (And where were you guys when Kevin Spacey was playing a guy half his age in Beyond the Sea, huh?)
Plot: we start out not long after the events of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The townsfolk, who have now cottoned to the craziness going on out there, form a lynch mob and head out to get ahold of Leatherface, leaving the town’s hapless sheriff (The Fast and the Furious‘ Thom Barry) in the middle. When things go south, they go south fast. Cut to some of the vigilantes picking through the wreckage. One of them finds one of the Sawyer womenfolk with a newborn. He liberates the baby. Fast-forward to the present day, and through the magic of cinema, that baby is Alexandra Daddario, who’s still in her twenties. A cagey lawyer (Office Space‘s Richard Riehle) has tracked her down and informed her that she is possessed of an inheritance in Texas, so she packs up some friends and heads south. Along the way, in a nod to the original film, they pick up Darryl (Rampage‘s Shaun Sipos), whose story is not exactly airtight, but they’re willing to roll with it. They get to the inheritance, find out it’s a massive mansion, and everyone looks thrilled with their lot in life… until folks start disappearing.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you this movie is perfect, or even all that good. I do, however, think it has been unfairly maligned; in fact, I would even posit that Texas Chainsaw, the movie Dread Central called the worst horror movie of 2013, is better than Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac (the movie they called the best). That’s not denying the movie’s lapses in logic or occasional horrible dialogue, but pointing out that as a turn-your-brain-off good time, it’s amusing. If it weren’t attached to the (overrated) Texas Chain Saw Massacre franchise, no one would have given it a second thought, much less proclaimed it the worst horror movie of 2013, a year that saw the release of Tibor Takacs’ Spiders, Zombie Hunter, Pandora’s Dawn, Zombie Massacre, and Glenn Ciano’s Infected, all of which are not fit to lick Texas Chainsaw‘s boots on any level either in front of or behind the camera—and I have little doubt that’s just the tip of the crappy-horror iceberg from 2013. Look past the oversights, turn your brain off, and have a passably good time. ** ½