It is human nature to question why things are the way they are. Fortunately or unfortunately, Hollywood tends to think along the same lines. Prequels either make or break origins. We’ve seen success in Revenge of the Sith, but we’ve also seen monstrous train wrecks like Exorcist: The Beginning. In this case, director Jonathan Liebesman has brought us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, to show fans the origins of the iconic Leatherface.
The film starts with the birth of a deformed child. A short sequence shows how the child became a part of the deranged Hewitt clan, and from this point, the film uses the opening credits as a montage to set up the character, light speeding to a fully grown Thomas Hewitt (Andrew Bryniarski wields the chainsaw yet again). The film, surprisingly enough, turns into a far more advanced horror movie than audiences are used to seeing.
Set during the Vietnam era, the film does a fine job incorporating the war into a new story line. Unfortunately, Texas does go back to the conventional road trip. Here we see two brothers, Eric and Dean Hill (played by Matt Bomer and Taylor Handley, respectively) and their girlfriends Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) and Bailey (Diora Baird) traveling through Texas before the Hills head off to war.
The accident occurs, leading Sherriff Hoyt to “save the day,” the role once again played by R. Lee Ermey. The brothers and Bailey are apprehended and taken back to the Hewitt home, where unbeknownst to them, a killer in the making is being bred. Chrissie finds it’s up to her to save her friends, despite the sick and twisted journey to any possible freedom.
There is a vast difference between this film and the 2003 remake, which is garnered by New Line to be successful, but was more or less 50/50 amongst fans and critics alike. While some scenes and instances are too similar to overlook, it doesn’t take away from the better feel Liebesman gives the series.
Most of the film’s positives lay upon the Hewitt family. The sick twisted nature of the clan is shown in the 2003 remake, but hardly explained to any extent. In The Beginning, the audience gets more than just a mere glimpse into how this family came to be cannibalistic sadists, with spots of dark humor.
The fear this family puts out is psychologically based. We see the torment in Thomas Hewitt, as he is slowly being guided into Leatherface by Hoyt. Both have significantly more involved roles than Marcus Nispel’s remake. Leatherface’s first killing with the chainsaw, given the circumstances it’s under, isn’t anything epic, but is still quite exciting, more so for die hard fans.
Hoyt, however, is hands down the center of the show. His control over the family and dictation for what happens in the town makes him an undeniable force in the film.The pain this family makes the four road trippers endure is sickening to say the least. The sense of reality jolts the audience the most.
When Leatherface goes to work, his work is shown in detail. Liebesman takes the reality this story is based on and twists it with vividly realistic scenes.
Although the film does follow common horror movie conventions, which are seemingly inescapable in the first place, it winds up being a solid horror movie. Keep in mind, this movie is not for everyone. It’s the type of movie that may have to grow on you. This won’t make a lasting impression, such as horror films of the older generation have, but it won’t fade after its release either.
Credit must be given where credit is due: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is worth giving a shot.