The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 1 hr. 31 min.

Release Date: October 6th, 2006 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jonathan Liebesman Actors: Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Lee Tergesen, Marietta Marich

 


 

“T

he Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” can be described as sadistically bloodthirsty and diabolically thrilling. But somewhere along the way, it also manages to be overwhelmingly repetitive and blatantly familiar. While it’s noticeably better than the 2003 remake regarding its thrills and raw violence, it still leaves a lot to be desired from such a famous franchise – and an even more iconic villain.

Dean (Taylor Handley) and Eric (Matthew Bomer) are off on a final road trip before they commit to fighting in Vietnam. Accompanying them are their gorgeous girlfriends Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) and Bailey (Diora Baird). After stopping at a gas station, where the two girls eye a burly biker couple, they continue on their way through rural Texas. When the biker chick suddenly reappears and begins chasing them, Dean pulls a gun from the glove compartment to scare her off. His efforts are in vain, however, as he ends up running into a steer crossing the road and rolls the vehicle. Fortunately for them, Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) is not far away and escorts them back to his humble abode for a pleasant evening sup. From there, the action (and nausea) ensues, as the foursome struggle to free themselves from the murderous and cannibalistic Hewitt family.

The film is abundant with storytelling problems, but it’s apparent that graphic new methods of killing people with chainsaws also can’t sustain a horror feature. Sequels are rarely better than the originals, prequels have even less of a chance, and remakes are usually not worth mentioning. “The Texas Chainsaw Massace: The Beginning” has the feel of both a prequel and a remake, so, sadly, it can’t hope to impress longtime fans of the original Tobe Hooper classic. And the realism and dread from the original mostly escape this latest episode, even if the carnage looks authentically gruesome.

As with countless horror franchises, the villain here has became so popular that additional pictures continue to be produced, just so that the impressive character design of Leatherface can be reused again and again. Screenplay and dialogue integrity are thrown to the wayside in favor of simpler, less intelligent opportunities for vivid brutality. Even though this chapter is intended to shed some light on the serial killer’s origins, his upbringing and childhood are revealed only through a photograph montage during the opening credits, which fails to reveal much beyond what the average viewer has already pieced together by watching entries leading up to this one.

In 2003, when Michael Bay was asked about the level of violence and gore that might be expected from this prequel, he mentioned that since he was a member of a committee for directors against violence in films, the ridiculous amount of bloodshed the project could potentially contain would be limited to just what was absolutely necessary – and that it would rely more on atmospheric scare tactics like those found in “The Blair Witch Project” or “The Ring,” which managed to be quite chilling even without excessive butchery. But something must have changed in the interim, because the level of gratuitous violence here has skyrocketed, while the amount of innovative thrills has diminished. Inhuman psychological torment, physical torture, skinning, throat-cutting, sledge-hammering, and, of course, the nonstop use of a chainsaw are all present and entirely uninhibited. The camera fails to cut away from numerous ghastly sequences – and just when viewers might think the filmmakers have left something to the imagination, they flash it onscreen anyway.

Curiously, the greatest downfall to all the bestialities is the lack of retribution. When films subject audiences to such hideous events, and then fail to follow up with some means of satisfaction, it creates a striking emptiness. And most mindless slashers like this aren’t intended to pose severely depressing scenarios with zero contentment; most actually provide some sort of catharsis at the conclusion. But even if it can’t offer up a welcome comeuppance, at least no one stumbles and falls during drawn-out foot chases.

– Mike Massie

  • 4/10