Texas Chainsaw 3D: Exploitative, Violent, Trivial

Exploitative, violent, and trivial, Lionsgate’s “Texas Chainsaw 3D” pretends to be picking up where Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic left off.

I say the movie pretends because there have been sequels, remakes, imitators and so on, though none matched the quality or impact of the original,

Once again we are in Newt, Texas, where for decades people went missing without a trace. The townspeople have suspected that the Sawyer family, owners of a local barbeque pit, were responsible for the crimes, indirectly if not directly. Their suspicions were sort of confirmed one summer day, when a young woman escaped the Sawyer house following the brutal murders of her four friends.

Word around the small town quickly and conveniently spread out, and a vigilante mob of enraged locals surrounded the Sawyer stronghold, burning it to the ground and killing each and every member of the family. Or did they?

Decades later and miles away from the initial massacre, a young woman named Heather has inherited a Texas estate from a grandmother she never knew she had. After embarking on a road trip with friends to uncover her roots, she finds she is the sole owner of a lavish, isolated Victorian mansion.

But her newfound wealth comes at a price as she stumbles upon a horror that awaits her in the mansion’s dank cellars.

The filmmakers not only pretend that we have not seen or heard of the previous reincarnations, but they also would like us to believe that we don’t know anything about the genre of the gothic horror movie, in which large, haunted mansions always feature prominently in the plot (This generic convention may go as far back as Hitchcock’s 1940 “Rebecca,” and in literature way before that).

Lionsgate has opted not to show the film to the press in advanced screenings, and you can see why. The film is poorly executed, helmed and acted.

Young, indiscriminating viewers may get a kick or two from the gruesome, but preposterously contrived plot elements.

John Luessenhop, who previously directed the awful feature, “Takers,” works from a screenplay by Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, and Kirsten Elms, based on characters created by Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper.

Carl Mazzocone is a shrewd businessman but not a particularly deft producer. When he was informed that the rights to the cult classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” property had reverted to the original owners, Robert Kuhn and Kim Henkel, Mazzocone jumped on a plane to Austin.

Minor benefit: The film contains appearances of four cast members from previous installments of the franchise: Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface), Marilyn Burns, John Dugan and Bill Moseley.