“This is the true sequel,” Texas Chainsaw asserts. To prove it, the first three minutes serve as a Reader’s Digest encapsulation of the original before picking up right where it left off.
Leatherface (Dan Yeager) and the surviving members of his Sawyer clan come under siege by an angry redneck squad of vengeance. In the rubble, an infant Sawyer is found, scooped up by one of the “good” guys and grows up to be Heather (Alexandra Daddario, Hall Pass), a grocery store butcher — a nice touch.
Simultaneously learning she’s adopted and that she’s inherited a huge house from a grandmother she never knew, Heather goes to Texas to settle the estate. Because the horror genre requires groups of young, stupid people, she brings her boyfriend (rapper Trey Songz) and two others. It’s not really a spoiler to say that Leatherface resides in Heather’s new-to-her digs.
Directed by Takers‘ John Luessenhop, Texas Chainsaw could have been so bad — like Michael-Bay-remake bad — and yet, provided you’re not appalled at the very idea of an exercise in gas-powered tools, it’s really pretty good. I do mean that.
The introduction of Team Heather is iffy and annoying, but once our anti-hero revs up his trusty Home Depot purchase (90 days, no interest), I couldn’t help but be entertained. Daddario is a better actress than these pictures usually receive; Luessenhop, a more gifted visualist than same; and overall, the film is reverent enough to Hooper’s original while being able to stand on its two feet, bloodied they may be.
Two featurettes on the Lionsgate Blu-ray, “Texas Chainsaw Legacy” and “Resurrecting the Saw,” work well in addressing that point (although there are plenty more bits to cue up just on this new movie).
It’s nice seeing ’74 Chain gang members Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen in brief supporting roles different from the ones that made them famous. (Ditto genre favorite Bill Moseley, who appeared in Hooper’s darkly comic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in 1986 and stole the show from star Dennis Hopper and star attraction Leatherface.)
It’s also nice to see Lionsgate allow a hilarious in-joke at the expense of its other horror cash cow, the chain-free Saw — one that suggests this won’t be the last time Leatherface is let out of the house. (An end-credit stinger suggests as much, too, so sit through all of it.) If further sequels are up to this level, he’s welcome anytime. —Rod Lott