Four years after the 2nd Chainsaw Massacre tried to take the franchise in a bold new direction, New Line Cinema got ahold of the rights. This movie has an actual budget, Viggo Mortensen, and absolutely no regard for the previous film. You can tell that they were trying to cash in on name recognition with Leatherface taking center stage over the whole Texas Chainsaw thing. Which is odd, given that this movie feels like it wants to spend way more time on the Sawyer family outside of Bubba/Junior/Leatherface.
We get a title crawl that lets us know that TCM2 didn’t happen and that Sally, the final girl from the first film, actually died in a private health care facility. They tried and executed some random Sawyer family member but assumed that he was responsible for everything. This time around, our new victims are Michelle and Ryan, a couple that are just about to break up as soon as this road trip ends. When they get tricked into going off into the backwoods by Tex (Viggo Mortensen), they end up almost literally running into survivalist Benny (Ken Foree) while fleeing the Sawyers. Now they just have to try to stay out of the clutches of the cannibalistic family.
While the poster might claim this is the “most controversial horror film”, it’s probably most controversial for being less of a sequel and more of a rehash of the first film. With original director Tobe Hooper not having anything to do with this installment and a big budget studio backing it; the grimy low budget feel of the first two is missing. I don’t particularly have any attachment to that style and I didn’t exactly love the first two movies anyway. I actually kind of liked this one better than the others due to the juxtaposition of how loving the Sawyers are with each other and how cruel they are to everyone else. While Michelle and Ryan are exceptionally blah for most of the movie, the Sawyers are super interesting and horror staple Ken Foree is always a treat.
The movie got hit really hard in its ability to show anything graphic or bloody, though. While the previous movies essentially flipped the MPAA the bird and went unrated, there was no way New Line was going to risk not getting a return on investment. So, unfortunately for those that love a good horror kill, the deaths in this are extremely off-screen. One of the saddest things is Leatherface gets a brand new, badass chrome chainsaw (pictured in the poster) but never actually manages to kill anyone with it. Speaking of that chainsaw; for a movie that wants to forget the 2nd movie ever happened, they sure did inscribe a quote from it right on the thing.
While not exactly groundbreaking or impressive in any way, I think this might be my favorite of the series so far. Which I am sure is right up there in my most controversial horror takes with “Rosemary’s Baby is fucking boring”. Whatever. I’ll take a paint-by-numbers, predictable horror movie over whatever the hell TCM2 was doing.
Score: 3 out of 5