Bill Moseley, center, as Drayton Sawyer, in a scene from "Texas Chainsaw… (AP )
The best horror films are actually about something larger than the grim events that typically befall their characters. It's what makes Tobe Hooper's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" films, George Romero's "Living Dead" movies or the more recent "House of the Devil" and "Let the Right One In" so powerful: They examine societal change and the fear of the other through a distorted lens.
As with far too many recent horror sequels and reboots, "Texas Chainsaw 3D," the latest off-target entry in the once radically unnerving series, has little on its mind beyond good-time gore.
For those mapping along, this "Chainsaw" is a direct sequel to the original 1974 film, negating the previous sequels and ignoring the more recent reboot and prequel.
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Highlight clips from the original film appear during the opening credits, and the film features a sequence intended to take place the same day as the action in that first movie — police and local vigilantes arrive to burn down the house of horrors belonging to the killer Leatherface and his sadistic clan.
Jumping to present day, the movie, directed by John Luessenhop, introduces Heather (Alexandra Daddario), who inherits an isolated house from a grandmother she never knew she had.
Arriving there with her boyfriend, a female friend and her new boyfriend and some other dude they picked up hitchhiking, the group begins partying with no thought paid to who might have been taking such good care of the deceased's home.
Turns out, Leatherface, Heather's unknown-to-her blood-kin cousin, has been hiding out in the basement lo these many years, his chain saw collection gassed up and ready to go.
Visually there's not much new here, save a scene in which a cop slowly makes his way through Leatherface's lair while using FaceTime on his iPhone, his superior safely on the other end pressing him onward.
A metaphor for the dehumanizing aspects of contemporary technology? A sly commentary on drone warfare, you ask? If only.
With Heather's boyfriend unfaithful and best friend promiscuous, the hitchhiker a thief and the other fellow a playboy/operator type, well, their deaths can all be rationalized. The film has something of a late twist that won't be given away here but needless to say, it sets up a sequel.
The original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" leaves audiences feeling hollowed out, dispirited and dissolute. "Texas Chainsaw 3D" is simply a bummer for being a big nothing.
'Texas Chainsaw 3D'
MPAA rating: R for strong grisly violence and language throughout
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: In general release
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