Texas Chainsaw 3-D: Gory and Mildly Surprising

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Directed by John Luessenhop. 92 minutes. Rated R.

Three sequels, a remake, a prequel to the remake, and now another sequel. What is it with chainsaw massacres of the Texas variety? This latest mostly ignores the three intervening films (not a bad thing) and is more or less a direct followup to the 1974 original, the ending reimagined as a bloodbath in which only an infant girl escapes. Heather (Alexandra Daddario), that now-adult survivor, learns of her murderous ancestors, the Sawyer family, when a long-lost grandmother dies and leaves her the old homestead as an inheritance (don't get too hung up on dates, because this Heather of the Perpetually Bared Abdomen is clearly not pushing 40). Unfortunately, this bequest includes a certain skin-wearing, chainsaw-sporting maniac known as Leatherface -- almost as bad as finding out the house your aunt left you comes with 50 cats. Credit writers Adam Marcus and Kirsten Elms with taking the story in a mildly surprising direction (the Sawyers aren't so much homicidal cannibals as they are the victims of rural small-mindedness). But discredit director John Luessenhop for giving us 3-D visuals reminiscent of Jaws 3-D: That slab of meat is coming right for us! Try as he might to honor the original -- flashbulb transitions, a skeevy (yet buff) hitchhiker, metal doors, and meat hooks -- there's little of its mounting dread. Instead, we get disembowelments and much action for the slaughterhouse. One surprise is an ending that leaves us with something rare for sequels: a sense of finality.

 
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