In a strategy that only strives to ostracize the faithful viewers rather than introducing itself to newcomers, the opening credits are a Cliff Notes sizzle reel of the iconic, meat-cleaving 1974 original. It dissipates the shock value by including officious musical stingers to the body count. Then it somersaults into the aftermath of Sally’s survival with a siege on the rusticated manor.
In an elephantine continuity error, the number within the house has significantly increased in a horde of hillbillies and Grandpa is suddenly coherent. The cameos from Gunnar Hansen and Bill Moseley don’t salve the wounds. The lynch mob that incinerates the Drayton clan are the antagonists and Leatherface (Dan Yeager) and his kin are antiheroes? This is terribly incongruous when Leatherface should instill fear.
Next this oafish follow-up engorges us with buxom, trailer-trash stereotypes and anti-intellectual, “artistic” millenials with ear gauges (Heather (Alexandra Daddario) sculpts paintings with bone remnants). What ensues is the franchise’s umpteenth cross-country trek in a van en route to Texas with a hitchhiker in tow. It’s perplexing why urban director John Luessenhop interbraided a Teen Beat soap opera love triangle between Heather, Nikki (Tania Raymonde with an irritating throaty scream) and Ryan (Trey Songz) when Leatherface is on the loose. Did we need more of a motive to be blasé when Nikki and Ryan are jeopardized?
Haven’t we evolved from the final-girl cliché? Heather is limping and she still outpaces a too lean Yeager. In a contrivance for the 3D additive, the ignoramus Heather barricades herself in a coffin while the chainsaw splinters through the wood next to her head. By the way, Yeager is too gaunt to be the rotund, fearsome ghoul. Luessenhop even replicates the found-footage feed from Aliens but to a dreadful extent. This is a parboiled sequel at best and an addled downgrade to those whose nerves were frayed four decades ago. On par with A Good Day to Die Hard for how wide the gap between the original and this pandering, inhospitable chapter is.
Rating: 1 out of 5