Too much is not enough

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

on October 06, 2006 by Tim Cogshell
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The central -- and only, if you are not a staunch fan of the genre -- interesting aspect of this prequel to 1974's Texas Chainsaw Massacre is its era setting. The late-‘60s/early-‘70s zeitgeist helps to anchor the film in a psychological milieu that is absolutely crucial to the suspension of disbelief that is necessary for non-fans to slip into these, frankly, ridiculous notions of backward, inbred families and their mutant, man-eating offspring. One can at least entertain the idea that, before cell phones and high-speed internet, anything was possible.

What is effectively the only new material here is the story of Leatherface's (Andrew Bryniarski) birth and upbringing. Found in a trashcan, we move quickly through his abused teen years and find ourselves again in 1969 (the setting of the original film), where the giant deformed monstrosity does his chainsaw thing with actual sides of beef. The slaughterhouse is condemned, and Leatherface is unceremoniously fired by an also abusive boss who becomes one of his first victims. Enter Uncle Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey, who also appeared in the 2003 remake), who assumes the identify of the dispatched Sheriff (the other victim) and utters the infamous words, “Meat is meat. Bone is bone,” and thus sets up more than three decades of mayhem under one title or another.

The balance is not significant, as the themes of this prequel (directed by Jonathan Liebesman of Darkness Falls ), Tobe Hooper's original film and the 2003 remake (directed by Marcus Nispel, previously known for pop-star concert films) are pretty much the same: Kill the pretty young people in ways as gruesome as the human mind can conceive. Here, the pretty young people include a klatch of friends (Jordana Brewster, Taylor Handley, Diora Baird and Matthew Bomer) on one last road trip before the boys are off to Vietnam. One supposes a correlation between the carnage of the war and the carnage on the screen is meant to be drawn. Some might find such a correlation stupid, if not offensive. In any case, the performances are of the scream, run and die variety, save Ermey, whose crazy drill-sergeant routine is beginning to ring hollow. The most disturbing notion that lingers in the mind of anyone who'll see Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is that the franchise may have even more to offer. Distributor: New Line
Cast: Jordana Brewster, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermey, Taylor Handley, Matthew Bomer and Diora Baird.
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Screenwriter: Sheldon Turner
Producers: Michael Bay, Mike Fleiss, Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller
Genre: Horror
Rating: R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some sexual content
Running time: 90 min.
Release Date: October 6, 2006

Tags: Jordana Brewster, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermey, Taylor Handley, Matthew Bomer, Diora Baird, Director, Jonathan Liebesman Screenwriter: Sheldon Turner Producers: Michael Bay, Mike Fleiss, Tobe Hooper, Kim Henkel, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller, Genre, Horror, New Line
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