"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" should never have started

Oct. 11, 2006, midnight | By Nathan Goldstein | 14 years, 3 months ago

Grisly horror prequel is too gross for words

Sitting at a dinner table, the impoverished Hewitt family feasts for the first time in weeks. They slurp down the red, meaty soup and satisfy their large appetites. Having started eating humans, the family will never go hungry again.

Horror movies are intended to be scary, to provoke fear in an audience that lasts even after the film is over. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" certainly does this, but in a way that is overly gruesome and downright disgusting. This prequel to "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" outdoes the violence and gore of its predecessor, and several scenes that are simply unwatchable.

The brutality begins before the starting credits. The movie opens with the future chainsaw killer Thomas "Leatherface" Hewitt plopping out of his grossly obese mother's womb. Screaming in horror and pain, she keels over and leaves her deformed son (Andrew Bryniarski) to be raised by two crazy, inbred hillbillies who find the baby in a dumpster. Years later, Leatherface's "promising career" at the slaughterhouse is cut short when the factory is closed. Upon being called a "big dumb retard", Leatherface's killer instincts are set loose and he slaughters his boss.

The parts of the story that would actually classify as "the beginning" of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" basically end there. Director Jonathan Liebesman spends the next hour indulging in nothing more than a trite remake of the original. Other than a few minor plot changes and some different characters, the story continues like the first movie. When two unsuspecting young couples are captured by Leatherface's hungry uncle (R. Lee Ermey) posing as the local sheriff, Hoyt, the rest of the movie becomes one big puke-a-thon.

Everyone going to see this film expects and wants to be scared, but certainly no one paid money expecting to become nauseous. The most brutal of the killings involve, of course, chainsaws. The first of these start when Eric (Matthew Bomer), one of the young lovers, angers the "sheriff" through a series of insults. Hoyt instructs Leatherface to do what he wishes with Eric, and Leatherface obliges. He starts by using a scalpel to scrape off the skin on Eric's forearms leaving him with bloody, unusable stubs. Later, Leatherface takes his chainsaw and runs it straight through Eric's gut. Not stopping there, he uses a small knife to slowly cut the first layer of skin completely off Eric's face. Leatherface drapes the skin, dripping with blood, over his own deformities.

Much later in the movie a biker arrives at the crazed sheriff's house to rescue his girlfriend and is ambushed by a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface. After a fruitless struggle, the biker finds himself belly down on the saw. As Hoyt holds the already injured biker to the blade, Leatherface revs the motor, turning it on. The chainsaw slowly pierces through the screaming biker's abdomen. The screams are then silenced when Leatherface makes one final tug on the saw and separates the two halves of the biker's body. A cackling Hoyt congratulates Leatherface on a job well done.

This graphic violence and lack of a substantial plot weren't the only problems plaguing "The Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning." The torture scenarios quit being frightening when they strayed into the ridiculous. Of course horror movies take some liberties, but this one makes no sense. For example, Leatherface runs about as fast as a car and can apparently catch people when they are driving. Is he deformed or is he a super-villain? Also, although chainsaws make noise, Chrissie (one of the young adults, played, by Jordanna Brewster) could not hear the sound of Leatherface and his chainsaw approaching when she was in hiding. To make matters worse, the pop-out, tension-filled scenes that many viewers readily anticipate when going to see a horror movie, are stale and familiar.

Graphic throat slitting and leg amputations aren't enough to carry a film. Watching Leatherface cutting off a victim's face and attaching it to his own is not entertainment — it's gross. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" tries too hard to make quick cash with shock value, and focuses too little on the elements that make a really scary film. Not only should the faint of stomach stay home, but everyone else as well.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" (84 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some sexual content.

Nathan Goldstein. Nathan is a junior in CAP who is really excited to be killed by Silver Chips and AP work. When he isn't doing homework, he loves playing and watching sports. He is also the host of BNC's Double Overtime show which everyone should watch. Even … More »

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