Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
Cast: R. Lee Ermey, Jordanna Brewster, Marietta Marich, Andrew Bryniarski
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Synopsis: Surely one of the most brutal (not the best), and splattery films ever created!
With the considerable success of the Chainsaw remake directed by Marcus Nispel in 2003 it was inevitable that the franchise would be further milked by the new owners of the Chainsaw brand – New Line and specifically the production house of Michael Bay; Platinum Dunes.
Though faced with the impossible task of living up to the classic Tobe Hooper original, the 2003 remake surprised many with its effectiveness and the fact that it even managed to miraculously steer clear of desecrating the memory of the original. Now, three years on, we have a film that takes us further back in time to shed light on the origins of the most brutal demented killing machine that cinema has ever known; Leatherface himself.
So, the film begins in depression shattered backwater sepia tinted Texas where a rotund worker in the local slaughterhouse suddenly sprouts a vile looking sprog who is tossed into the nearest dustbin where a local woman, trawling for discarded lumps of flesh discovers the live rubbish and takes it home cooing “mama’s gonna buy you a mocking bird” to pacify the little critter. She returns home to her husband who remarks that the creature is the ugliest thing he ever laid eyes on but it seems that the wife has her way and the child is inducted into a family of psychotic lunatics. We, the audience is shown through scratchings etched on some parchments that the critter is hideously deformed due to some grisly skin ailment which necessitates wearing bandage patches around the face to keep from being mocked by fellow students of an imaginary school that he attends.
Time passes in a flash and now the child has grown in to a hulking lug of a man who still wears shreds on his face to hide his hideous predicament while he spends his time hacking pieces of meat at the local abattoir that to his dismay is just about to be condemned by the local authorities and shut down for good. Thomas or Tommy as we now discover is the real name of Leatherface is distraught at the news of the impending closure of the Slaughterhouse and turns on his boss as a little practice for times to come. Meanwhile his uncle also demonstrates his lunacy by brutally doing away with the local sheriff whose identity he thereafter adopts and from Joe Schmoe he now turns into the fake and extremely sadistic sheriff Hoyt developing a taste for human flesh and declaring that his family will never again struggle to put some meat on the dinner table.
Meanwhile nearby two attractive young couples are making a trip through Texas, one just returned from the Vietnam war and one ready to dodge the draft, needless to say, they don’t quite arrive at their hoped-for destination intact. On their they crash into a huge cow battering their jeep and then, turn by turn receive as brutal a battering as ever filmed on celluloid. The film, promising to reveal the dark mechanisms of the twisted mind that turned into Leatherface instead turns into the most appalling catalogue of brutality and bloodletting.
In fact, in recent times films such as Hostel and the Hills Have Eyes remake have attempted to raise the bar for on screen splatter but nothing quite comes close to the bloodbath that this film achieves. Sadly, amidst all the brutality, sadism, torture and gore, there is little that creates any form of tension or suspense. The movie unwinds to its bludgeoning, brutalizing crescendo without managing to get the audience anywhere near the edge of their seats – and this particular Chainsaw Massacre is akin to taking the front seat of an abattoir in full swing, yet it is stylized in the prescribed manner in washed out sepia tone with all warm colours expunged off the screen other than the vivid dark red that flows profusely.
The movie lacks artistry and style and is merely a catalogue of hackings, bludgeoning, impaling and the like…. the level of violence has yet to be matched in cinematic history yet after a while the viewer tends to become numb to each hack and slash as though it was all in a day’s work. The recent Scorsese film The Departed also contains scenes of violence that actually make the viewer flinch while this conveyor belt of brutality just dulls the senses into oblivion. The film lacks urgency, tension and even fails to explain what made Leatherface the way he turned out to be. Was it because of his skin disease and the fact that he was bullied at school (which we never see) morph him into the killing machine he became or was it the deranged antics of his barbaric uncle that played the pivotal part.
This particular episode of the Chainsaw Massacre films is memorable, but not as a well-crafted terror film but more as the film that took on screen violence and splatter to a level yet unseen. It is by far the most violent and gruesome film this viewer has ever encountered but five minutes after you leave the cinema, it’s all forgotten.