The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning


Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 

Before their upcoming service in Vietnam, Dean (Taylor Handley) and Eric (Matthew Bomer, "Flightplan") take their girlfriends Chrissie (Jordana Brewster, "The Fast and the Furious") and Bailey (Diora Baird, "Wedding Crashers," "Accepted") on a road trip but their unplanned destination will prove to be far more horrific than any war when they become witness to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning."

Laura:
2003's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake was a dreary affair made somewhat bearable by the visuals of the original film's cinematographer and a spirited performance from Jessica Biel.  This prequel of the remake is ever so slightly better, due once again to a plucky leading female, this time Jordana Brewster's Chrissie, but also to the filmmakers' attempts to ground it in its 70's roots.  "The Beginning" fails, however, to deliver on its very premise - the history that created Leatherface.

Sure we get a prologue showing the birth of Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski, 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") in, of all places, the slaughterhouse (the baby's rescued from the offal pile by Luda Mae Hewitt (Marietta Marich)), but the only explanation we get for his eventual fondness for power tools that screenwriter Sheldon Turner (2005's "The Longest Yard" remake) comes up with has been obvious from the very beginning (facial deformation).  What about the kid's formative years? Now *that* might have made for a movie.

Instead we get another pack of kids ripe for ever more gruesomely depicted slaughter, something the original film, a movie I revere, never showed.  There is some wit to the introduction of the characters.  Older brother Dean is introduced rising from the waters of a leaf-strewn swimming pool while young brother Eric is first seen lying on a bed from above a whirring ceiling fan, both references to 1979's Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now."  What Dean doesn't know is that Eric intends to dodge the draft, a fact which incenses Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey, 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), the epitome of evil and war mongering patriotism.  But once the kids are in the Hewitt's clutches it's the same old drone, pretty much an explicitly gorier, far less provocative repeat of the 1974 film.

Director Jonathan Liebesman ("Darkness Falls") apparently wants his audience to feel queasy rather than genuinely terrified, as there is little in his setups we haven't seen before, but while this film wasn't shot by Daniel Pearl, who cut his teeth on the original and went on to shoot the remake, Lukas Ettlin ("The Grudge") at least takes pains to make his film look like it was shot in the 70's, giving the film the sickly yellow cast of old color film stock.

In the end, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" is damned with faint praise - it's not as bad as the remake was.

C+

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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