Review 29: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (1/5)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Starring Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird, Matt Bomer, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski

Released on October 6, 2006

Running time: 1h 31m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

As many of you may remember, I reviewed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back in January of this year. I thought it was a poor, poor excuse of a remake of a classic horror film that still manages to be scary to this day.

I couldn’t help but notice that, as with the previous TCSM film, New Line Cinema had the balls to release this. Yes. This is the company that released The MaskElf, the original Nightmare on Elm Street, New NightmareTeenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesTwin PeaksGettysburgSe7enDark CityAmerican History X, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with The Return of the King winning Best Picture at the next Oscars, the Hobbit trilogy, and The Conjuring. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Wow.

And this movie was directed by Jonathan Liebesman. I complained about him in Darkness Falls (it keeps coming back to bite me in the butt) and I most likely will not complain about him again, as I like two of his other films, Battle: Los Angeles and Wrath of the Titans, and most likely will not be reviewing his latest directorial credit, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though I reviewed Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween back in January, I can safely say that Jonathan Liebesman and Michael Bay made the same mistake as Rob Zombie: they tried to give a soul to the boogeyman.

The instant I saw the Platinum Dunes logo appear onscreen, I facepalmed. Hard. Michael Bay is ruining a classic horror movie yet again. I can imagine good old Bay sitting in the nearest sleazy, seedy bar, and blabbering drunk while coming up with this damn idea. I have yet to enjoy any movie that bears the Platinum Dunes logo. I have had three incredibly unpleasant experiences watching, taking notes on, and writing reviews for TCSM, Ouija, and The Unborn. The next Platinum Dunes movie I will be reviewing will be the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street. I saw the original NoES online. I was unimpressed. I will be reviewing the remake soon. I’m looking forward to it.

But enough about Nightmare on Elm Street. This review is about TCSM:TB.

But before I get to it, I must mention one more thing. Tobe Hooper, the director of the original TCSM, actually had the stones to produce TCSM 2003 and TCSM:TB. What was he smoking?

Our story starts with a prologue set in August 1939. An overweight worker at a meatpacking plant in the Texas outback (which isn’t even the same meatpacking plant as in the 2003 TCSM) (Continuity? What’s that?) goes into labor out of nowhere, goes through the fastest, least-painful-sounding pregnancy ever, and dies giving birth to a deformed child. The plant owner throws the baby in the dumpster to die, but the baby is rescued by a young Luda Mae Hewitt as she scavenges through the trash for anything edible. She takes him home, names him Thomas, and loves him with all her heart.

During the title sequence and the opening credits, we are shown some out-of-focus biographical and psychological reports on young Jedediah Sawyer – sorry, Thomas Brown Hewitt! – which is strange, because this town is widespread. The nearest psychiatrist’s office is probably at least three hours away.

Anyways, over the next thirty years, Thomas develops a skin disease, learns that he is mute (both offscreen), and becomes a hard worker at the exact same meatpacking company where he was born. What a coincidence. Anyways, the meatpacking plant becomes condemned. Thomas (Andrew Bryniarski) is called an “animal” by his boss, so Thomas kills him. As he is walking home, he is approached by his adopted uncle Charlie (R. Lee Ermey) and Sheriff Winston Hoyt. When Hoyt points a gun at Thomas, Charlie shoots him with the sheriff’s shotgun, assumes the identity of the sheriff, and introduces Thomas and the rest of the Hewitts to cannibalism. Charlie’s transition from stereotypical Texan to bloodthirsty cannibal is way too quick. But this is, surprisingly enough, actually explained later.

Oh, THERE’S the cannibalism that was missing from TCSM 2003. I was wondering where it had gone. Well, I suppose that’s one thing this movie improved upon over its predecessor. TCSM:TB actually HAS cannibalism. I’m amazed.

TCSM:TB­ again pulls the same gimmick as TCSM 2003 did: Leatherface isn’t evil. He’s just misunderstood. That’s pretty tough to buy. While this was clearly the case in the original TCSM, as Jed Sawyer was intended by Tobe Hooper to be a “big baby” and kill people because he felt threatened, in the case of TCSM 2003 and TCSM:TB, Thomas Hewitt is clearly a sadistic serial killer, despite being mentally ill as in the case of the original TCSM.

However, it is overwhelmingly awesome to see GOD ON HIGH, TREASURE TO THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE: R. LEE ERMEY again. But as much as I love this guy, I would much rather see Drayton Sawyer than Charlie Hewitt.

It is also nice to see the Hewitts say grace over their food like I recommend every family to do.

Anyways, our story shifts to four young adults: Eric (Matt Bomer), his brother Dean (Taylor Handley), Eric’s girlfriend Chrissie (Jordana Brewster, who we keep seeing in The Fast and the Furious, and who seriously needs to fire her agent), and Dean’s girlfriend Bailey (Diora Baird). Eric is on his way back to Vietnam, Dean is a secret draft-dodger, and Chrissie and Bailey are about to bid them goodbye in the closest manner Michael Bay dares to get to actual boobies. Wow. Oh, and Eric proposes to Chrissie with a ring he found in a Cracker Jack box. Insert Spaceballs joke here.

And of COURSE Michael Bay dresses his actresses in as little clothing as he can.

After visiting Luda Mae Hewitt’s shop, the four’s car is held up by a female biker with a sawed-off shotgun. The group’s car hits a blood-exploding cow and is totaled. Chrissie is thrown from the wreckage. “Sheriff Hoyt” shows up, quickly kills the would-be robber, and upon noticing Dean’s partly burnt draft card, arrests Eric, Dean, and Bailey, not noticing Chrissie in the field about twenty feet away from the wreckage. “Hoyt” takes the trio to the Hewitt place. He strings up Eric and Dean and ties Bailey to the kitchen table to let Luda Mae clean her up. Chrissie finds the boyfriend of the dead biker girl and makes her way to the Hewitt place to rescue her friends. It does not go well, to say the least.

“Hoyt” reveals that he was a POW in Korea, and that he and his fellow POWs were forced to resort to cannibalism to stay alive. That’s cool, but so cliché. And way to enforce the crazy war veteran stereotype.

The “horror” elements in this film consist of a series of cheap “startles” rather than jumpscares.

The four main actors are clearly way too Hollywood for us to take them seriously. They look way too 21st century for a film that is set in 1969. One annoying bit: Chrissie’s pants are down just far enough to show off the top of her butt crack. I can imagine Michael Bay getting turned on by that and taking that as a pitiful excuse to stroke his tiny, impotent penis.

The Hewitt family is all terrified by “Hoyt” and Leatherface? They’re all supposed to be crazy!

Yes. Biker and Texan stereotypes. Wow. Oh, COME ON! I complained about stereotypes in my Wrong Turn review!

Of COURSE any movie that concerns the Vietnam War is going to be blatantly against it.

The composer of this movie’s soundtrack WISHES that he was Charlie Clouser. You know, the guy who did the soundtrack for Saw.

This is another of few movies that actually has me siding with the bad guys.

This movie also has the most ridiculous tease I have seen in a long time. The biker Chrissie brought to the Hewitt place is on the floor, lying on Leatherface’s chainsaw, and Leatherface turns it on and saws the biker in half. And it is never shown onscreen.

Michael Bay seriously thinks that this is scary, and that an unhappy ending is original. Wow.

As bad as this movie was, it was slightly better than TCSM 2003.

Slightly.

Final verdict: 1 of 5 stars.

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