“Texas Chainsaw 3D”: In 2003, a remake of Tobe Hooper’s seminal 1974 horror film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was directed by moderately visual stylist Marcus Nispel and produced by the much more talented visual stylist Michael Bay. While the remake was thoroughly terrible, it made $107 million against a $9.5 million budget so an even worse prequel, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning”, was made in 2006 by the not particularly talented visual stylist Jonathan Liebesman. It made less than half of what its predecessor did but it was still a moderate financial success so the franchise rights were purchased by Lionsgate who commissioned a new “Chainsaw” film that is a sequel to Hooper’s original despite Hooper having made a sequel in 1986.
This new film, which apparently doesn’t feature one of the series’ defining massacres, is set twenty years after the first film and follows an adopted young woman’s (Alexandra Daddario) as she comes to site of the original film to claim her inheritance, only to find that mean old cousin Thomas “Leatherface” Hewitt is still kicking around town. Being the third in a series of terrible remakes, there’s no way that “Texas Chainsaw 3D” can be even remotely worth watching. It stars the female lead from “Percy Jackson and the Olympains”, Clint Eastwood’s son Scott, and R&B medium talent Trey Songz and its directed by John Luessenhop who has directed the not terrible direct to video prison drama “Lockdown” and the abysmal heist film “Takers.” That’s a cast and crew so uninspiring I wouldn’t be interested in watching they were involved in producing an undiscovered Shakespeare play. Luckily for all involved, this film is the first wide release of the New Year, meaning no one will remember it exists when it’s time to make the worst of films of 2013 lists. Also starring Bill Mosley, Tania Raymonde, and Shaun Sipos.
Fun fact: John Dugan, who played Grandpa in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, reprises his role here.
“The Promised Land”: Late premiering Oscar bait from Gus Van Sant wherein Matt Damon plays a smooth talking salesman who attempts to buy up all the drilling rights in a small Midwestern town, a relatively simple job complicated by John Krasinski’s environmental agitator. Upon the film’s limited release, it was met with resounding critical and financial shrugging and it’s not hard to figure out why. The film looks to be a polemic, which co-writers and stars Damon and Krasinski using the well-worn narrative spine of corporate phony finds his heart in America’s heartland to deliver a sermon on the controversial practice of fracking. Social issues dramas like this can be done well, as “Promise Land” production company Participant Media has shown over the years but that needs to be some amount of subtlety mixed in with the sermon. Also starring Frances MacDormand, Rosemarie Dewitt, and Hal Halbrook.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com.