*1/2 (out of four)
Since it's missing one particular word in its title, “Texas Chainsaw” now sounds almost like a menacingly named barbecue joint with an unnecessarily aggressive style of cutting its meat, likean Iron Chef who took the name to extremes.
The likewise technique-free (and pointlessly 3D) “Texas Chainsaw” is just another attempt to replicate the twisted terror of Tobe Hooper’s influential 1974 classic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” without most of the style that still makes it freaky. After a shift at a grocery store that appears to exclusively employ hotties, Heather (Alexandra Daddario of “Parenthood”) learns she has a grandmother in Texas who passed away and left her a house. It’s clear that Heather is the baby who was kidnapped following the slaughter in 1973—the new film opens with footage from the original and then a new scene, in which local vigilantes shoot Leatherface’s family and burn down their house—ignoring the fact that would make Heather nearly 40 and well out of her midriff-baring mid-20s.
Not that continuity is a priority in this grisly effort from director John Luessenhop (who wrote and directed 2010’s instantly forgotten “Takers”). By now Leatherface (Dan Yeager), who still has both arms to indicate that “Texas Chainsaw” imagines the squishy 2003 remake never happened, surely wouldn’t be able to move so quickly in, what, his mid-70s? He’d at least have issues wielding the chainsaw as he attempts to pick off Heather and her vacationing friends, including Tania Raymonde as Standard Hot And Untrustworthy Co-Worker and R&B singer Tremaine “Trey Songz” Neverson as Heather’s Muscular Boyfriend Who Can’t Resist Hot And Untrustworthy Co-Worker.
Leatherface remains an unsettling villain; in isolated moments “Texas Chainsaw” recaptures the frenzied mania of Hooper’s effectively cheap-looking shocker. More often this unnecessary sequel proves loud and thoroughly predictable, and yet another modern horror flick more interested in the killer than the killed. Daddario should sound a lot madder by the time she asks, “How could you leave us alone in that house?,” though that’s less suspect than the filmmakers asking us to take sides with a deranged killer.
As Heather weighs family responsibility and dudes yell about finishing what they started/not on my watch/yadda yadda, it’s hard to be scared when thinking “Really?!” Though gazing upon the burly, 6’5” Leatherface, I was also thinking, “This is the kind of guy people wanted to play Jack Reacher?”
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