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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Leatherface on the psychologist’s couch
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Jordana Brewster in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning".
OPENING WEEKEND: $26,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $72,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

April 24th, 2006: After learning about being drafted for the Vietnam War, Eric (Matthew Bomer) and Dean (Taylor Handley) decide to go on one final road trip with their two girlfriends, Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) and Bailey (Diora Baird). While driving through a peculiar little Texas town, the foursome gets into an accident, rendering their car useless. It doesn’t take very long before the psychotic Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) shows up at the scene. He quickly rounds them up and takes them to a rather familiar secluded household. The Hewitt family, made up of Luda Mae (Marietta Marich), Old Monty (Terrence Evans), and their son Thomas (Andrew Bryniarski), welcomes the kids with open arms. As it happens, the Hewitt’s are a family of cannibals, excited about the prospect of a fresh meal. To make matters worse for the unlucky group of youngsters, Thomas is going through a terrifying transformation into a chainsaw wielding killer, who loves to rip people’s faces off to wear them as masks. He is becoming “Leatherface.”

What to Expect: The 1974 version of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was an exercise in pure, uncompromising terror. The film’s low-budget quality and its insistence on observing the sadistic behavior, without explaining it, gave it a dreadfully realistic feel. It stood as a portrait of inexplicable evil and it could be argued that it was meant to represent the loss of innocence felt during a difficult period in American history. Its success naturally led to sequels, which have progressed further into unbearable territory with each outing. The third and final sequel, The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, really struck bottom, but is now famous for featuring Renée Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey still early in their careers. What do you do when you’ve run out of new material in a series? That’s where Marcus Nispel’s 2003 remake of the original comes in. On a mere $9 million budget, the horror flick grossed $80 million in U.S. theaters alone and was arguably the best film in the franchise since the original, which really isn’t saying much. While the remake still left a lot to be desired, its primary flaw was the rather inappropriately polished and even appealing presentation of the disgusting content. Since then, Nispel has moved on to bigger and better things. He is currently finishing up his intriguing Viking-themed film, Pathfinder, set to release in July.

It didn’t take long for producer Michael Bay to decide on a sequel following the remake’s success. Jonathan Liebesman is the director this time around, possibly thanks to his compelling 15-minute film Rings, which is an impressive “short” that bridges The Ring with The Ring Two. Unfortunately, Liebesman’s only other full-length feature is the critically panned Darkness Falls, which has no shortage of relentless violence, but lacks all other qualities that are typically found in coherent movies. His involvement in the remake clearly suggests a focus on style over substance on the part of the producers. The hulking Andrew Bryniarski (The Program, Street Fighter, Higher Learning), who appears to have found his calling, returns for the second film in a row as the iconic Leatherface. R. Lee Ermey, the real-life drill sergeant famous for his numerous supporting performances, especially his memorable turn as the ruthless Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket, reprises his role as the vicious Sheriff Hoyt. No doubt, his character will once again walk that fine line between comedy relief and total insanity. Finally, the beautiful Jordana Brewster (The Faculty, The Fast and the Furious, Annapolis) steps in for Jessica Biel as the principal female screamer in the film.

Article continues below

As the title suggests, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, will actually be a prequel to the previous film, continuing the annoying trend of origin stories that have basically littered cinemas ever since the new Star Wars trilogy started the fad. I think that in the past six years there have been more prequels than actual sequels, which somehow doesn’t seem to make any difference since they are usually just as bad, if not worse. Now here is a prime example of a story that really does not warrant a prequel. The producers seem set on the idea that revealing Leatherface’s origins, including the events that have had a psychological impact on him, is a good decision. The film is set in 1969, four years prior to the last one, during a time when Thomas’s transformation is in the early stages. Additionally, a series of flashbacks to moments that occurred even earlier in his life will reveal some of the causes that have contributed to his moral breakdown. As Andrew Bryniarski has said himself in an interview, the film is likely to portray Leatherface as a “sympathetic” character. I cannot imagine a fate any more terrible than this for the series. The decision to show the ruthless killer as a “sympathetic” figure goes against the grain of everything that the series stands for. By attaching reasons, explanations, and purposes to the killings, the filmmakers strip away that heartless and mysterious quality that gave the horror so much of its weight to begin with. It’s yet another example of America’s fascination with Freudian rationalization, at least in cinema. Pure horror works best when it cannot be understood; when it cannot be fully explained; when it seems alien. Leatherface was once evil personified; now he will be reduced to a mere frightened child.

In Conclusion: The previous Texas Chainsaw Massacre had less to do with the original and more to do with the endless list of lousy horror films targeted at teenagers that have come out in the past five years. The prequel appears to be taking bad filmmaking to a whole new level. Instead of portraying the Leatherface character as the cold, machine-like killer that he is, the story may just depict him as a misunderstood geek. There’s nothing more frightening than that. Honestly, I feel that this film will feature more laughs than genuine scares. Ultimately, however, the large fan base, the remake’s success, and a solid advertising campaign should once again generate decent box office numbers.

Similar Titles: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Cabin Fever, House of 1000 Corpses, Wrong Turn
October 6th, 2006 (wide)
January 16th, 2007 (DVD)

New Line Cinema

Jonathan Liebesman

Jordana Brewster, Matthew Bomer, Diora Baird, R. Lee Ermey, Taylor Handley, Cyia Batten, Andrew Bryniarski, Marietta Marich, Terrence Evans

Total: 120 vote(s).

Horror, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some sexual content.

84 min






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