Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Running Time: 91 minutes
Starring: Jordana Brewster, Diora Baird, Taylor Handley, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen
Directed By: Jonathan Liebesman
Rating: 4 out of 10
Four friends must survive a murderous family as they are trapped at their secluded family home.
One of my best friends once said that he doesn’t watch movies of this nature because nothing good can come of it (both mentally and socially speaking.) I disagree with his blanket statement of the horror/gore genre as a whole. However I can’t help but feel his comment is bang on with this movie. The first Texas Chainsaw Massacre film (remake 2003) coupled an okay story with well thought up frights and scares. While of course there is plenty of blood and guts in the first film it still falls in line with the story of a dude killing people with a chainsaw. It also left some of the deaths to the imagination so it wasn't all gore all the time. This film threw all discretion out the window and proceeded to try and disgust the viewer with every form of depraved act imaginable. Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is the story of two brothers and their girlfriends as they road trip across the country. The brothers are on their way to serve in Viet Nam when they find themselves at a secluded house in an abandoned town. The house is out of someone’s worst nightmares as it is filled with murderous tenants.
This film is clearly made for the hardcore fans of this franchise. Did The Texas Chainsaw Massacre really need a prequel? Of course it didn’t and as in true Hollywood fashion this film falls shockingly short of the first for many reasons. Why anyone needs to know how Leatherface was born, How Sheriff Hoyt loses his teeth, How Monty loses his legs, and other such morbid and inane answers are beyond me. If however these questions were bothering you after the first film then they do get addressed. The film starts and it looks very much like the first and even unfolds in very similar ways. The kids are heading cross country in a jeep and wind up at the disturbing looking Hewitt household. Of course the buildup has the usual amount of cheap frights as people pop up out of nowhere and sudden loud noises happen at random intervals. For some reason a group of bikers straight out of the video game Road Rash show up to add to the stupidity of this film. They were incorporated for a larger body count but seamlessly built into this story they are not. The film is already been there and done that so they try to make up for it by shocking and grossing out the viewer instead of trying to scare them.
The acting is about on par with the first as a new cast of twenty something’s try to survive this movie. Jessica Biel stole the show with her half a white tee shirt in the first one. She is equaled in this one by Jordana “eyebrows” Brewster in a very low cut pair of jeans. What is it about Texas and killing sprees that bring out these types of outfits is beyond me (I am not complaining.) Brewster plays Chrissie and does a good job as the lead for most of the film. Her character has bouts of misplaced bravery which are hard to watch but she did a good job overall. The two brothers, Dean and Eric played by Taylor Handley and Matt Bomer are passable and do not detract from the film. Dean’s girlfriend Bailey played by Diora Baird is basically in this movie for her looks and vocal chords. She can scream and look good but can do little else. I found her performance one dimensional. The Hewitt family is all back from the first film and they all do great jobs as creepy, inbred hicks. Their performances are mainly visually based as they have the look and that is all that is needed.
As this is the second installment you know they were going to unnecessarily up the ante with everything in regards to this movie. There is going to be more bodies, more blood, more chainsaw, more torture, and that means less of a good story. I didn’t find this movie scary at all I found it off putting. People are dying in the worst possible ways in this film. Leatherface is not just killing people he is dissecting them. He is peeling back skin and cutting off appendages for no reason. As the film progresses it is hard to feel anything for these kids as they try and survive the house of death. It is just non-stop disgusting scene after scene. So much so that you are desensitized to every scare they even remotely go for. The film is hard to sit through as it leaves nothing to the imagination. People violently get removed from the story and the viewer could care less. This film will most likely have an audience I just found it a tiring and uninspired horror. As the film heads to its predestined end I couldn’t help but feel this film lost its way and lost it early. When cannibalism and bloody discharges from birthing are the mild things happening you know this film is swinging for the fences of awfulness. Being chased by a maniac with a chainsaw is the payoff not the chainsaw cutting into torso after torso.
Director Jonathan Liebesman knows how to do bad horror (Darkness Falls). He takes a decent first installment and does nothing with it. He does capture the gore element and creepy character factor quite well but that is at the expense of the story and frightening moments. I never felt nervous tension like I did with the first film and that is the most disappointing thing. He took a franchise with built in scares and transformed it into something grotesque and abnormal. The camera work is decent and the film does not run long but it just never clicked the way it should have.
I cannot recommend this and while I know this has a fan base it goes way past horror for my taste.
T Factor + If you like mindless gore then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you need a strong story in your films then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: House of a 1000 Corpses, Hostel.