When the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was being promoted for the theatrical release, I was ecstatic. Unlike many, I was looking forward to this film. This may have been because I was just getting into the horror genre, or that I had never seen the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 1974. It was, I believe, 2004 that I watched the remake, and I was pleased beyond my imagination. Many were. It is by far one of the better remakes from amongst the piles that are being dumped from every direction. One could blame that movie for starting the remake movement, but one thing is for certain, it was a good flick. Thatís all that really mattered. So with an entertaining, new look for chainsaw killer Leatherface, where else was there to go? A sequel? Apparently not, what with some key details left at the end of the reboot. No, this called for a prequel. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning opened in October, 2006, with a promising trailer. But did it live up to the previous box office smash?
Sloane (L.A. Calkins), a woman working at a slaughterhouse in 1939, faints on the job. It turns out she is having a baby, but when the newborn bundle arrives, he is deformed and hideous. Thrown in the garbage to die, the infant cries out. A young Luda Mae (Allison Marich) hears his pleas, and takes him home with her. Years later, the tiny baby is all grown up, and he too is working at the slaughterhouse, just like his birth mother. However, the factory is closing down, and the owner doesnít want scary Thomas Hewitt (Leatherface, as played by Andrew Bryniarski) to stay around. Angered, Leatherface leaves, but returns to the factory later on to get even with the man. Using a sledgehammer, he shows no mercy.
At a motel not too far off, brothers Dean (Taylor Handley) and Eric (Matthew Bomer) are relaxing with their girlfriends, Bailey (Diora Baird) and Chrissie (Jordana Brewster). Eric is re-enlisting in the army for the Vietnam war with Dean to join him. But Dean is actually thinking about bailing. He doesnít want to fight. Meanwhile, Sheriff Winston (Lew Temple) has seen what Thomas has done at the slaughterhouse, and picks up Thomasí uncle (R. Lee Ermey) at the Hewitt farm to try and catch him. They spot him on the road, armed with a chainsaw, and the Sheriff steps out of his car, taking his gun, and walking towards him. Thomasí uncle has other plans though, and shoots the Sheriff right in the head. Taking the copís badge, the uncle calls himself, Sheriff Hoyt.
The four hippies are on the road when the subject of enlisting in the army comes up. Dean admits to not wanting to go overseas, and a fight between the two brothers breaks out. Itís paused for a moment when a biker chick starts shooting at the gang. The car smashes into a poor cow, and crashes on the side of the road. Chrissie has been jolted out of her seat, and lands in the field. The biker attempts to rob the young adults, when Sheriff Hoyt blasts her with his shotgun. He forces the others to get into the cop car, and drives up to the Hewitt farm, where he ties all three of them up. Chrissie is frantic, and finds herself on the Hewitt property as well, observing what is happening to her friends. Their lives are turning into one big mess, and if they donít help each other, their bodies will too.
It seems as though this entry in the growing Texas franchise consists of the most torture. Sheriff Hoyt stomps and kicks the poor hippies to a state of pain that is almost unbearable to watch. With the total characterization of the first hour, you almost feel the helplessness of the main cast of teenagers. None of them are bitchy, and they all have something special about them. The gore gets juicier and juicier the longer the show runs. Throat slits, chainsaw impalements, skinnings, and a pair of legs being sawn off are the shocking visuals that grace the screen. Itís very appropriate to have a slaughterhouse in the flick, even though most of the mayhem occurs outside of it. If youíre looking for grue, youíre watching the right film. This prequel is a splatterfest and truly sickening.
You really learn to hate Sheriff Hoyt. Not only does he inflict pain on innocent people, but his family as well. He orders Thomas ĎLeatherfaceí Hewitt to amputate a shot leg of one of the relatives with a chainsaw. Then he has the other one sawn off as well, ďfor balanceĒ. The film starts to get tense, but chases always end quicker than expected. Thatís not a good thing. Youíre hoping to see these people escape the evil family clutches, but after about three minutes of running, they get caught, once again. The leash is far too short. I suppose one excellent area in The Beginning is the acting. The large lady who drinks tea from the remake returns, and she has pretty funny scenes. Eric actually uses her as a boulder to block Sheriff Hoyt from walking through the door.
The house is nice and big, but the eerie feel it had from the remake is missing. There is a lack of suspense among this prequel, and the family/killers are not as intimidating. Leatherface looks like a regular man, just with a cloth around his mouth. I do admit, the skin mask he makes from one of his victims is impressive. It has the soul of the dead person, yet the eyes of a maniac. New Line Cinema havenít been doing well with their movies lately, but this addition to their library begs to be recognized. Itís gritty, itís dirty, and itís an all-out gorefest. With deleted and extended scenes, a behind-the-scenes documentary, and an audio commentary with the director and producers, this is one top notch DVD. Sadly, this is a mere effort compared to the remake. Gorier, but nothing special. Rent it!