[Screen It]


(2013) (Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager) (R)

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Horror: A young woman inherits a creepy Texas estate and discovers that her psychopathic, chainsaw-wielding cousin comes with the house.
A young woman named Heather (ALEXANDRA DADDARIO) is shocked to learn that she is adopted when she receives an unexpected inheritance from her biological grandmother. She was left an entire mansion in a small, remote Texas town. Eager to see her windfall, Heather takes a road trip there with her cheating boyfriend, Ryan (TREY SONGZ); her slutty best friend, Nikki (TANIA RAYMONDE); and Nikki's new boyfriend, Kenny (KERAM MALICKI-SANCHEZ). Along the way, they pick up a hunky hitchhiker named Darryl (SHAUN SIPOS).

It soon becomes clear that these young adults are not alone in the house. A disfigured, psychopathic killer known as Leatherface (DAN YEAGER), long thought dead, lives downstairs in a secret lair. He immediately starts to kill Heather's friends with a chainsaw, and then removes their faces to add to his hideous collection of masks.

Heather eventually learns that she is the killer's cousin and that her real family was killed by a local group of vigilantes led by local blowhard Burt Hartman (PAUL RAE), who has since become the town's mayor. She seeks help from her grandma's lawyer, Farnsworth (RICHARD RIEHLE); Carl (SCOTT EASTWOOD), a local cop with a secret; and the town's longtime sheriff Hooper (THOM BARRY). Eventually, their collective corruption overwhelms her and she has to seek the help of the one person she never thought she could trust.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or in this case, very late the night before release) is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

With all apologies to those reading this who still get frightened by hulking psychopathic killers springing from their lairs and wielding machetes, hatchets, and (in this case) chainsaws, that sort of horror hijinks just doesn't scare me anymore. No, not after the month I've had. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, several strands of cold and flu bugs have run rampant through my home market of Baltimore-Washington, D.C. The experts say it's because we've had two mild winters in a row now on the East Coast, that there hasn't been enough snow and deep freeze to kill all the bugs out there.

I only know that every restaurant, movie theater, church, and grocery store I go to these days sounds like a Civil War hospital with their symphonies of coughs, sniffles, and people hacking up all sorts of nastiness. My 7-year-old daughter has caught much of what's been tearing through area schools and communities, as have I and my wife. Antibiotics, missed school, missed work, threatened holidays -- it's pretty much been a living nightmare. So, pardon me if Leatherface and his ol' Black & Decker don't inspire much dread in me these days. You know what IS scary? Getting your little girl healthy again, arranging a play date for her because she's been climbing the walls, and then having some little second-grade snot-nose come over to your house -- with a new and active cold! THAT is pure concentrated evil, dear readers! I've looked this villainy in the face. I've run from it. And there has been NO escape!

But enough about me. The new "Texas Chainsaw 3D" commits three movie sins. One, it's just not scary. If you don't care for the characters - and, sweet Caviezel, the people in this flick are morons - it's hard to feel any fear for them. I mean, when a perfectly able-bodied young woman runs from a limping, lumbering, forty-something killer carrying a heavy, portable mechanical saw; can't keep her footing for more than a half-dozen steps; stumbles into a graveyard; and then hides in an empty casket conveniently waiting for burial -- you know you're not dealing with the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Movie Sin Number Two -- the film is deadly dull. It never builds any momentum. There is no humor. After a cool, retro prologue that nicely recaptures the '70s style of minimalist, down-and-dirty slasher horror, it's clear the filmmakers have no clue as to deliver anything new or compelling when the story flashes forward to the present day. The script conferences must have gone like this: "Dude, wouldn't it be cool if we showed Leatherface's chainsaw coming out at the audience in 3-D?!" "Yeah, dude! Let's shoot it!"

And, three, "Texas Chainsaw 3D" turns Leatherface into both a victim AND a hero by the end! Oh yeah, it goes all Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker in a big way. This NEVER works in a horror flick! And in short, the preposterous "Texas Chainsaw 3D" doesn't work as a result. I give it a 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed January 3, 2013 / Posted January 4, 2013

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