Time to Die

This 'Chainsaw' origin story is flat-out terrible

Any horror fan looking for a cool origin story in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is in for a bloody letdown.

This "beginning" for Leatherface feels like the result of an elementary school writing contest where the topic was, "How did the big scary guy with a skin mask get that chainsaw?" When you find out how, you'll realize that this horror series, which went creatively bankrupt after Tobe Hooper's somewhat amusing sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, needs to die a grisly chainsaw death.

The remake a couple of years ago was an admirable failure. The film looked decent, had Jessica Biel's glorious butt and a few genuinely creepy moments. The Beginning delivers the gore and an uncomfortable atmosphere, but is tremendously lacking in original ways to present them.

This time out, Leatherface is basically Jason Voorhees of the Friday the 13th series: a lumbering, stoic monster who cuts people up because his mean-assed uncle (R. Lee Ermey) tells him to. Remember Gunnar Hansen's shrieking, oddly gleeful murderer from the original? He's been replaced by one boring, sweaty bastard who finds no joy in his horror-genre participation.

The creepiness of the original emerged from just how happy the clan seemed to be when it came to killing and eating people. This stupid script asks us to believe that the family resorted to cannibalism because the slaughterhouse was shut down. Apparently, the slaughterhouse was the economic cornerstone of their community, so when it died, the town died, along with its grocery stores. They boil their victims in a stew, which is just gross. In the '74 original, it was all about the barbecue, and that was freaking funny.

The Leatherface birthing scene which starts the film is icky (all sorts of fluids shooting everywhere) and just a bit obvious, if you were to ask me. He's born in, you guessed it, a slaughterhouse, then deposited in a trash bin. Momma dies during birth as if she'd just unleashed some sort of supernatural demon on the world. Leatherface is no longer a product of a misbegotten youth and being a social misfit. He's the demon seed, so horrific that he's a murderer before exiting the womb.

Yes, you get to see the origin of "the mask." You know what it is? Leatherface quietly and most assuredly cuts a random victim's face off, sits down in the corner for something like 15 seconds and manages to stitch the thing together. Honestly, I expected Leatherface fashioning his famous mask to be the last scene of the movie, and I expected the person the mask came from to make some sort of impact in the film. Nah. He's just your average pretty boy chainsaw fodder.

As for the reason Leatherface uses a chainsaw, it's because he found one lying around the slaughterhouse. It was a matter of convenience, not preference.

The cast is a bunch of relative unknowns, with Jordana Brewster's ass replacing Biel's. I don't say this to be a sexist pig: Director Jonathan Liebesman tries to make Brewster's ass a legitimate character in this film. Brewster is required to perform all sorts of crouches, bend-overs and crawls in order to allow us the glorious vision of her butt crack. They should've just named her butt-crack Andrea and given it some dialogue. It probably has more screen time than Leatherface.

Just to let you know, this isn't coming from a cinematic purist who denounces the notion of remaking or revisiting classic horror films. I absolutely dug the Dawn of the Dead remake (it was better than any movie George Romero has made since Creepshow), and The Hills Have Eyes was actually better than the Wes Craven original.

But in this case, by the time a certain narrator makes a guest cameo by film's end, it's too little, too late. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a bad movie. It all needs to end.

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