When it comes to movies such as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series tend to offer (both the originals and the post millennial re-makes), people tend to either love them or hate them. If you already hate the TCM franchise then this film is most likely not going to be the magic potion that changes everything for you. If you are a TCM fan then you most likely already know that the movies made in the name of the most famous meat carver in the Lone Star state are not always fantastic. Let’s cut to the chase Leatherface-style and sink our saws into the overall judgment call for this film: it ain’t fantastic.
Much of the problem here comes with the fact that this is supposed to be a prequel, the story that begins the madness in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. For that to hold water as a concept there would need to be an element of ‘story’ stronger than showing the Hewitts as reactionary to the Hells Angels scare that ruled the land during the 1960s. The friendly local law enforcement of the rural Texas area which the Hewitts inhabit is one Sheriff Hoyt – who isn’t an actual sheriff. Basically the four roadtripping young folks who stumble into the grasp of the movie’s antagonists are themselves not terribly easy to empathize with. We’re left shrugging when they get chewed up by a vast assortment of torturous techniques. This is fine for a horror movie, but it still isn’t exactly much of a story. If a horror movie is going to ‘explain’ things, especially such a magnificent icon of fear like the original TCM, then it stands to reason that it should delve into at least the basics of what is driving the Hewitts other than sheer Lovecraftian madness.
The original TCM was reportedly inspired by the carnage of world renowned serial killer Ed Gein, a real life ghoul who did terrible things to both the living and the dead. Similar to Leatherface, he was something of a simple minded fella and not extremely social. This ‘Beginning’ film totally skips that reference and gives us a bunch of crazed country folk who feel it’s their job to kill off the bad people (ie, draft dodgers, hippies and bikers) who are screwing up their country, as they see it. That seems to be the message, but it’s not really quite as strongly conveyed as it should be in a movie of this renown and honestly, it’s all but drowned out by the roaring chains and screams of the tortured victims.
Casting the Hewitt clan as social revolutionaries might appeal in a blackly comedic kind of way, but it is also somewhat understandable given much of the sentiment that the public seems to express about the deaths we see in mainstream media each day.
But really, you came to see people try to outrun revolting rednecks with industrial tool fetishes, didn’t you? If that’s the case and you wanted a splatter flick with a cute coed trying to outrun a maniac family of sociopaths who have only the tiniest bit of delusional reason for their depravity – you chose the right movie!
After all, who comes into any of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies hoping to see an epic about the shaping of cannibalistic rural outcasts?