The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a cinematic legacy that is long, colorful, and pretty darn terrible.
Oh, sure. The original 1974 film still remains an unimpeachable classic of shocking violence and psychotic madness, but The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990) are little more than garish geek shows full of stupid splatter for splatter's sake. Fun enough in small doses, but hardly worthy sequels to such a great horror film. Then came 1994's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, which is so outrageously amateurish you won't believe it's considered a finished film. Then we got the slick-but-decent remake in 2003 and a pointless prequel to that remake in 2006. All up to speed now?
Good, because the producers of the brand-new Texas Chainsaw 3D want you to watch their film as if it's the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel ever made. That allows us to dispose of at least three pretty terrible sequels, so I'm on board with the producers' request. Beyond that, however, we'll have to part ways, because Texas Chainsaw 3D is every bit the afterthought of a money-grub sequel that almost all horror sequels manage to be. Chock full of atrocious dialogue, nonsensical plot contortions, and a frankly insipid attempt at turning the nefarious cannibal known as "Leatherface" into a T2-style anti-hero, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D went from a movie I wanted to like to a movie I wanted to burn after about 15 merciless minutes of running time.
Picking up "directly" after the end of the original movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D begins with the slaughter of the infamously cannibalistic Sawyer clan, but of course there are a pair of survivors. One is Leatherface the lunatic, and the other is a baby girl who will grow up to inherit a Texas mansion that has a maniacal murderer locked in the basement. Also she's Leatherface's cousin. Suffice to say that Act III is an absolute farce to anyone who remembers that Leatherface used to be a force of mad nature; a freakish man-child who kills to keep his family fed. In this movie he's almost like Freddy Krueger in his later sequels.
If Act I is five minutes of "sequel" and 25 minutes of painfully familiar character set-up, and Act III is like a misshapen combination of Jason Goes to Hell and Terminator 2 (don't ask), one may at least find some fun in the flick's middle section, because that's when the pace really picks up, people get killed in sharp or shocking fashion, and there's a good deal of running, jumping, hiding, and escaping going on. All the relative fun of Act II ends with a car crash, and from that point on the film becomes something almost monumentally stupid. I certainly wouldn't spoil anything for the horror fans who plan to see the movie, but if you like your Leatherface deeply, darkly, distressingly scary -- this is not the movie for you. What was once a primordially scary human monster is now a misunderstood anti-hero who hunts down bad men. No, I'm not kidding.
Beyond the meager moments of escapism offered in the film's mid-section -- and the painfully pretty presence of lead actress Alexandra Daddario -- there's nothing here that horror fans haven't seen before, and probably don't need more of. While it claims to be a direct sequel to a classic film, Texas Chainsaw 3D has no idea what makes the original film so damn scary. It's almost like the four (!) screenwriters and ten producers didn't even watch the original, opting instead for '90s flicks like Urban Legend and Valentine. None of it is scary, the gore is way too chintzy-looking, and the plot is an unnecessarily convoluted mess.
Just stick with the original.