LEATHERFACE is the most disappointing of the TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE movies – mostly because it doesn’t take us anywhere new. But then again, with the exception of PART 2, none of them really do. Ultimately, almost every TCM film follows the same formula as part one, just does it a bit more slickly. The formula is: normal people, driving through Texas, meet seemingly normal other people, break down, find out that seemingly normal other people are in fact part of insane, inbred, mutant cannibalistic family, Leatherface comes out with a chainsaw, and inevitably some woman survives the whole thing. And there, in a nutshell, is the plot of TCM 3.
The film opens effectively, with a couple coming across a police excavation of a pretty grisly mass grave. Told to shuffle along by the police, as they drive across country, the two pull into a gas station where they encounter Aragorn himself, Mr. Viggo Mortensen. He seems normal enough, and works on seducing the female of the two. Ding ding ding. Avid viewers of TCM films know that he is clearly the “seemingly normal” member of the Sawyer family.
Soon enough, their tire blows and the two are stranded on a dark, woody road. Seems like a good time for Mr. Leatherface to show up and voila! There he is, with his brand spanking new chainsaw. The innocent couple gets in their car, speeds away and rams right into another car, driven by Benny. Benny is hard to get a read on, but he seems to have some survival training and has no love lost for Leatherface either. Soon enough all three are being chased in the woods, and surprise, surprise, the male member of the couple gets taken out first.
It isn’t long before we’re back at the Sawyer household and are witness to their crazy antics once again. But this feels tired and re-done after the genuine freakish craziness of the house scenes from the first TCM. It’s basically paying homage to it, without doing much to re-invent it. The one nice twist is the addition of a young girl to the family. It is a bit creepy how eager this bright young thing is to get in on the slicing and dicing action.
But all of it just feels a bit half-baked. Really, if you want to get a disturbingly off-beat horror movie, then watch the first installment. If you want some over-the-top camp, then watch the second. But why take a step back and watch a mediocre re-imagining of part 1? There’s no real point to it. Especially since it was scaled back from NC-17 to R, and most of the good gore was tossed out. Do yourselves a favor: go straight for PARTS 1 and 2. This one has its moments, but not enough.
RATING: ** (out of four)