This deep into a franchise—really, I’ve lost count of the Texas Chainsaw Massacres—most horror series are limping along, putting a movie out just to keep the brand in-house, that kind of stuff. Not here. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D is every single thing I want from a horror movie. And the story actually surprises me.
Worse, I almost missed the whole thing. Because I accidentally read a review or two, and it’s so easy to pan the sequel to a remake, or however this one’s stacked. Really, I’d guess a lot of the bad reviews were pretty much written before the reviewer even saw the movie. The movie just confirmed what the reviewer thought going in. And, I understand the impulse: hating the new version is a way of showing allegiance to the old version. It’s a way of resisting the studios grubbing for remake dollars. And it’s low-hanging fruit: no, this Leatherface isn’t quite as scary as Gunnar Hansen’s. Yes, the grittiness of the original is gone, never to be done again. And no, we shouldn’t ever compromise, but TCM3D isn’t remotely a compromise.
TCM3D knows exactly what it needs to do, knows that the audience is expecting certain things—a van of kids, a hitchhiker, ‘Texas,’ those red shorts, somebody getting hung on a meat hook; Leatherface—and so it rigs the story such that all of that starts unfolding as quickly as possible. No, as efficiently as possible. And in a completely fun way, and out at an All the Boys Love Mandy Lane kind of place. What could be better? Yes, these characters are asking for it. Don’t we love that, though? Yes, they’re all mannequin-pretty. Would Dario Argento have done it any differently? Yes, this is part of the 3D-thing going on. Were we not there when that same fad came through Jason, through Jaws? And, this time, the 3D’s even pretty cool.
My only complaint about Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D? That I wanted to clap at the end. But it was only me and two other dudes in the whole theater, and they were already sloping out.
Where are the horror fans? Have we become an audience of snobs?
I believe in horror, anyway. I can’t stop. And I believe in this Chainsaw. It may even be the best horror I’ve seen in wide-release since Cabin in the Woods. It’s the kind of movie that makes me excited again—like I was for the Sorority Row remake, yes, or for the My Bloody Valentine do-over—the kind of movie that I wish there were a kiosk on the way out, so I could buy it on DVD. But I’ll be there when it’s released, no worries. I might even be back to the theatre for this one again.