You’ve got to hand it to the filmmakers for being so stupidly ambitious in their bold attempt to try and create something new for this franchise. It doesn’t pay off mind you but applause for going against the predictable grain is what I give them. It’s dark and creepy but apart from those feelings and the film opening, this 2013 take doesn’t ever feel like the original.
After the happenings in the 1974 film, we see the townspeople burn the farmhouse down, with all the family in it. On this night, two Newt civilians find and keep a baby belonging to the Sawyer family, intending to raise it as their own. Years pass and the baby is now a young adult female called Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) who recieves mail informing her that her grandmother passed, a house in Texas is left to her and so upon discovering she’s adopted she decides to go with her friends to see what was left for her. Though a hidden secret in said house may be a family past locked away too dark and twisted for Heather to face.
It’s cool to see faces from the original return, even for the briefest of time in the opening. It’s just a shame, that the stylish opening flashing with memories of the 1974 events fades away to typical slasher genre material. The Sawyer white washed house is no more and the family are all but gone, a classic horror film wiped away for modern day purposes, sad times. The messed up element of the ’74 movie made it the shocking, scary and tense piece of cinema is still is, whereas this film in trying to emulate that messed up vibe of cannibalism and chainsawing just plain messes up by trying something different.
The writing is going for broke trying to be clever in layering family ties, background stories and the main thread is in setting up Leatherface as some insane anti-hero. I guess with other movie villains it can work but with the human face wearing psychopath it never hits the ground running as a viable idea to engage in. They’re sadistic and he’s mad, end of. It feels odd watching this film paint him and the family as victims and misunderstood. Then the whole unsettling change as Heather deals with the news kicks off another bunch of surreal silly nonsense in the story-line.
Horrors are fun and entertaining for their cliches of characters making stupid decisions, but most of that is in them going the wrong way or trying to fight the killer in the worst place, whereas here little miss Heather suddenly becomes witch-eyed weirdo when realising she’s a Sawyer, as if that would flick a switch in you. You’ve literally been hunted down by this man and his power tool for ages, why would you change sides so easily!? And the fact that they even let a stranger they just met, stay alone in a huge and stocked full of items mansion, dumb!
The blood and gore is to be expected, though it becomes too much like a ‘Saw’ film. The eeriness was what worked better than the guts and human red liquid in the original and if they’d stuck to that kind of atmosphere, the film could have been better. Saying that though, the tension of Leatherface being an inescapable killer was nicely done and the actor portraying the masked nut did a fantastic towering job. It’s just a shame the story around his and Daddario’s acting didn’t fit the bill they were trying to write.
Alexandra Daddario plays that lead scream queen female with gusto and loud shrieks to portray the necessary wailing hunted chick but they’re something in those gorgeous yet haunting eyes of her that always keeps you on edge, so when they hold more than just fear and retain an ounce of murder or rage you can see why she’s a good choice for the development in her character. Dan Yeager is never seen in the flesh but what he lacks in the usual acting department of facial expressions he makes up for with bulky presence. A great counter balance to the petite hot girl persona of Daddario.
I’m beyond glad I never saw this in 3D as it would have made me dislike it further, a gimmick that isn’t needed. I can only give it virtual points for what it tries to do and the brief moments of dark tension it musters up. A monster icon of horror is torn to shreds and reconstructed like a half assed Frankenstein creation, see it if you dare.