'Texas Chainsaw Unrated'

I thought we had all agreed that unless Freddy is squaring off against Jason, the guys with all the weapons in slasher flicks are never supposed to be the protagonist at any point. Oh, they can have sympathetic back stories. But in the here and now they are monsters with a singular purpose -- to rack up a body count.

Texas Chainsaw Unrated is the seventh installment in the horror franchise, and its mistake is turning Leatherface -- that monster with a singular purpose -- in to a quasi-protagonist even as he mercilessly dismembers and mutilates a series of victims. Given that Unrated is not a straight reboot, the desire to differentiate it from its predecessors is understandable. Everyone has to have their own take. But it shouldn't be so brainless.

Much like the most recent film in the franchise, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, this is a family affair. Heather (Alexandra Daddario) receives a surprise inheritance from family she didn't even know she had down in Texas, so she and three of her friends head south to check it out. She finds she's been left a creepy, creaky mansion not far from where Leatherface and most of his family supposedly went up in flames a few decades prior. Leatherface isn't a supernatural being like Jason Voorhees, but he might as well be. Of course he's locked away in the mansion. Of course he gets out. Of course the chainsaw roars and people end up on meat hooks.

The twist here is that the true villains are in town. The same people that slaughtered Leatherface and his family in a blaze in the 1970s now occupy leadership roles in town. They have a dark secret to protect. And Heather, aka Cousin Leatherface, represents a sizable threat. The HeatherFace vs. Townspeople dynamic might be more interesting if Heather's cousin didn't spend the first half of the film dispensing unspeakable savagery on her friends before turning on the "real" bad guys.

Leatherface is a mass murderer who wears a mask made of human skin. He can't ever be part of the solution. His role isn't to mete out justice. It is only to incite terror. Texas Chainsaw Unrated leaves those crystal clear waters muddied in an utterly artless fashion. It is boring and nonsensical, and in an age of hyper-violence, even the blood and gore is for the most part only worthy of a yawn.