From IMDb: A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward.
In Revisiting, I rewatch a film I haven’t seen in years to see what I think of it now. These are typically films I didn’t like when I first watched them, but over time I feel like I should give them a second chance. Without further ado, let’s revisit 2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D.
This film has its merits, and that’s namely when it focuses on the horrors of our past. The opening scene depicts a moment of violent mob justice against the Sawyer family. Unlike the rest of the franchise, this film immediately tries to make some of the Sawyers seem like they aren’t murderous cannibals so it’s already setting its own course.
Beyond the careful detail and nods to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it isn’t particularly impressive until the mob begins taking celebratory pictures with dismembered pieces of the family they killed, with the iconic sound of the flashbulb camera popping and recharging from the original film. That sound effect focuses us, however briefly, on the cruelty of the mob.
We are then treated to a title card which is chopped in half so the pieces fly at us in gratuitously 3D glory. We have been pulled out of that brief moment of intrigue into a horrendously typical introduction to the 20something protagonists of the film. Our main character is slicing meat in the butcher section of a grocery store.
We are immediately introduced to her “slutty” friend Nikki. You can tell from the cleavage and the focus on a guy she is seeing.
Importantly, when describing the new guy she is seeing, she is actually describing Leatherface in nice bit of foreshadowing, “he’s got this thing about becoming a chef. There’s actually a lot more to him than meets the eye…” Hold onto to that thought because we are about to meet the other “slutty” friend, Heather’s boyfriend Ryan…
The minute Ryan appeared on screen after Nikki’s introduction, both painfully coded as the sexual ones in the group, I knew they were secretly sleeping together because of terrible horror film logic. I was not disappointed.
Heather learns she was adopted, and has an inheritance in Texas from her recently deceased grandmother. Her friends agree to go with her to Newt, Texas on their way to Halloween in New Orleans. Nikki does this with a Hurricane already in her hand.
On the way they pick up a ripped hitchhiker who seems tragically unable to button his shirt.
When they got to the honest-to-goodness mansion Heather has inherited, the attorney tells Heather (twice! within a minute!) to read the letter her grandmother left her. You can already guess what she is not going to do.
Then Heather and her friends all leave the tragically nearly shirtless hitchhiker alone with all their belongings in the house with all the keys so they can all get groceries he suggested getting…yeah.
The hitchhiker and his half shirt finds a giant metal door in the basement. A neat fake out occurs – he begins to try to break into the seemingly impenetrable door. We naturally assume he will break it open and Leatherface will be behind it. He goes to grab something to jimmy the door open, and Leatherface suddenly appears and begins bashing him in the face with a hammer.
In town, Heather instantly has not one but two exposition-fueled exchanges with a young police officer and Burt, the leader of the opening mob who is revealed to be the mayor of the town.
When realizing the hitchhiker ripped them off (may he find a way to button his shirt completely in heaven RIP), Kenny helpfully says “Wow he played that smooth.” No he didn’t Kenny. Y’all are idiots.
Nearly 33% into the movie and we are, to literally no one’s surprise, treated to diagetic Trey Songz music. What is surprising is the context of this scene. In it, Trey Songz’s character Ryan appears to be playing pool against himself while drinking and listening to the song. There is something painful about blasting the lyrics “I only came for the ladies and the drinks/ladies and the drinks” while literally playing a game for two by yourself. We have truly seen the human side of Ryan in this moment.
Kenny gets meat hooked by Leatherface in a serviceable jump scare and kill scene, while Nikki goes for a different kind of kill by trying to seduce Ryan in the barn. Heather explores the house, discovering a withered corpse upstairs, then finds Leatherface making some kind of literal finger salad.
While Heather hides from Leatherface, Ryan and Nikki hear the chainsaw from a distance and helpfully shout “Hey hey! What’s that guy doing?” Trying to attract the attention of the strange man yielding a chainsaw at night wouldn’t be my first instinct but maybe I’m the weird one.
The three characters manage to get away from Leatherface, but Ryan is killed in a car accident after Leatherface slashes one of their tires and the van flips. Heather makes a run for it to distract Leatherface from Nikki. Thankfully she is too startled during this life-or-death situation to question why Nikki is wearing nothing but lingerie and Ryan’s shirt.
One of the more impressive scenes of the film involves Heather fleeing from a persistent Leatherface through a town’s carnival. It even has a neat cameo from a Jigsaw accomplice.
Leatherface flees when the young cop from earlier in the film appears. Heather is taken to the police station where they helpfully leave her with an evidence box detailing the mob justice enacted on her family. This evidence also helpfully fails to detail the murder and cannibalism enacted by her family that caused this reaction.
Heather flees the station and is eventually kidnapped by the young police officer, who turns out to be evil Burt’s son. He chains Heather up in an abandoned slaughterhouse per his father’s command. Burt is convinced all the Sawyers must be wiped from the earth, and that includes Heather. Burt and his buddy Ollie nearly kill Heather who manages to escape thanks to Leatherface, who has realized through ridiculousness that Heather is his cousin. They then nearly kill Leatherface, and while escaping Heather has a change of heart and decides to rescue her human flesh wearing murderous cousin, infamously shouting “do your thing cuz!” as she throws him his chainsaw.
The scene is meant to provide a sense of cosmic justice, as we watch the Sawyers get revenge on members of the mob that killed their family. But it is hard to make that mental transition as viewers when we know very well how evil the Sawyers are. I admire this film for trying to do something creative, but it doesn’t successfully convert me to #TeamLeatherface. If anything, Leatherface was most relatable in the original when he lets out an exasperated sigh upon killing yet another meddlesome intruder to his home.
In the most generous reading, the movie is implying Leatherface’s intellectual disability renders him unable to understand what he is doing – in his mind, he is merely defending his family’s home from invaders when killing people. But he still slaughtered all Heather’s friends. And yet somehow, Heather makes the decision to care for him and embrace her role as a Sawyer.
It’s an innovative ending for a slasher film to have the final girl side with the killer, but it doesn’t feel like a particularly empowered one. After the sheriff lets Leatherface kill Burt as he watches on, he looks at Heather and says “clean this shit up” in a tone that says “this is your problem now.”
This sense of disempowerment is further felt when Heather has to kneel before Leatherface to pick up his food tray.
The ending stinger shows Heather’s opportunistic adoptive parents showing up to try and cash in on her newfound riches only to be confronted by Leatherface to try and reinforce his role as the family protector, but it can’t effectively make sense of the film’s turn. We are left to wonder what kind of future Heather (or rather, Edith Rose Sawyer) has.
- This film looks so clean compared to the original and even the 2003 remake which makes it feel wrong for the franchise.
- The gore in this film is pretty intense and spot on. It’s like if what you imagined was shown in the original was actually shown on scene.
- How on earth, with a signed testimony from the sheriff nonetheless, were there not arrests for what happened to the Sawyer family?! I’d understand if he had falsified his testimony but he wrote the report exactly as it happened.
- A lot of people focus on the “do your thing cuz!” line, but this time around I really wanted more from this exchange:
Heather: He was wearing a face.
Sheriff Hooper: A mask?
Heather: A human face.
Sheriff Hooper: Aren’t We All?The last line is my made up dialogue for this scene that would have made it even better
Not the worst, but not the best. This certainly earns points for originality, coming across like fanfiction about an established series come to life. But the film doesn’t successfully convince me of its twist and Heather’s decision to support her cousin.