Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning’ is more of a duplicate of the 2003 remake of the classic horror film than it is an insightful look into how the horror started. Whether that’s a good thing depends on your feelings about the first one.
The newest installment has the spirit of the gory slasher flicks of the 80s and 90s, in which it is a given from the start that everybody is going to die a violent death. This is a big break from the flood of PG-13 ‘scary movies’ that have been drowning out the gore for the last several years, in which maybe a character or two dies (usually quickly and off-screen), and everybody experiences some suspenseful moments.
After the first few minutes, the basic plot is nearly identical to the first film. Without a strong sense of suspense, viewers don’t necessarily care what happens next. On the plus side (for horror fans), it’s really, really gross. The lead characters are mutilated and tortured with a level of graphic detail that tops even the ‘Chainsaw’ of three years ago.
The first scene takes place at a meat packing plant, where a baby who will someday grow up to become the infamous Leatherface, everybody’s favorite disemboweler of lost teenagers from the ‘Chainsaw’ franchise, is abruptly brought into this world.
While the miracle of birth is never a pleasant thing to witness (especially when it occurs in a meat packing plant and the newborn’s face is disfigured), this scene is easier to watch than the videos of real childbirths shown in high school health classes.
After showing where Leatherface came from, the opening credits successfully set the tone for the rest of the film. As the names of the big players flash on the screen, the background is filled with a moving collage of miscellaneous, indiscernible pools of blood and tearing flesh over random ripping sounds in the background.
Then the movie jumps right to the day when the all-grown-up Leatherface kills his first human, and his crazy adopted father figure wants to get in on the fun. At the same time, a group of four teens on a road trip get stuck on the side of the highway within slaughtering distance of the crazy rednecks.
‘The Beginning’ does deserve some credit here for not just having the kids’ car break down. Instead, the film delivers a fairly creative scene involving a renegade highway-robber shotgun-toting biker chick chasing their car, the previously mentioned psycho dad and a cow.
It’d be a shame to give away any of the really juicy parts of this chainsaw story, but it should suffice to say that after the teens get stuck in Texas, they don’t have a good time.
R. Lee Ermey’s turn as the father steals the show from Leatherface. It is the beginning, after all, and for the most part, Leatherface doesn’t make the decisions of when and how to hack up his victims.
Ermey’s character calls the shots, delivers some good one-liners from time to time and generally serves as the glue that holds Leatherface’s happy family together. Everybody else is basically there to make a lot of noise and kill or be killed.
The end is something of a let down. Audience members will probably wonder how things went from so crazy to anticlimactic in just a few short seconds.
‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning’ has nothing substantially new to offer, but it does what it was created to do: gross people out. Regardless of how many stars, thumbs up or anteater heads it receives, there’s a really easy rule of thumb to follow when deciding to go see this film.
Anybody who considers a movie about people getting cut up with no mystery to be solved or underlying moral message a waste of time will consider this offensive trash. But moviegoers who can enjoy blood and gore without being overly concerned with plot or character development should definitely see this in theaters.
Rating: 3.5-5