The Saw is Family!
Michelle (Kate Hodge) and her boyfriend are driving across country, from California to the East Coast, and pass through Texas along their route. They are having a bit of difficulty in their relationship and this long journey was meant to help bring some healing and understanding to the situation. Instead, they run into the Sawyer clan, a group of cannibals who have chosen them to be their next victims, fresh meat for the chili. They nab Michelle and her boyfriend and together, Tex (Viggo Mortensen) and Leatherface (R.A. Mihailoff) drag them back to the family home, where they’re going to slice and dice the two of them. What the Sawyers hadn’t counted on was another victim of theirs, Benny (Ken Foree) not only surviving, but coming back to kill them all. Turns out Benny is a survivalist and he’s ready to deal some death himself. So the fight is on. Who will survive, and what will be left of them?
Director Jeff Burr has made a fun and exciting film. It doesn’t have the weighty dread and abject horror of the first film, and it’s not as satirical and playful as the second. This third installment sticks more closely to the rules of a regular horror film, which I guess in some eyes makes it a lesser movie, but I would disagree. Burr and screenwriter David J. Schow did what needed to be done to keep the franchise moving forward: they added new characters to the (Saw is) Family, they gave Leatherface much more screen time, and they tossed the Sawyers some worthy opponents (keeping in the tradition of Part 2). You throw the excised gore back into the movie (cut for ratings purposes at the time, and doesn’t that seem just silly now, given the gore-soaked world we live in?) and cast Ken Foree as the badass going up against Leatherface, and you have yourself a goddamned good time. No, it doesn’t reinvent anything and isn’t some clever reinterpretation, but it is an expansion of the Sawyerverse (did I really just write that?) and a terrific blast.
So in essence, if you want some Leatherface action that isn’t caught up in trying to be weird or outdo the other films in the series, if you want a fun, rollicking horror flick, look no further. This is a worthy, if unnecessary addition to the Sawyerverse (I’m growing fond of this, sorry) and definitely the best of the movies that come after. The entire cannon has its charms and I don’t think there’s a dud amongst them, and Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III sits right there in the upper-tier of the series.