The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006)
Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Premise: A prequel to the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This film dramatizes the events that trigger the start of predatory behavior by Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) and his family including Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski).
What Works: The Beginning takes a smart hint from the 2003 film and places Ermey’s character as the center antagonist of the film. He is very frightening, and makes an interesting father figure to Leatherface. The teenage characters in this film are more complex than the cast of most other slasher films. The script gives the characters more interesting relationships than this genre usually allows.
What Doesn’t: Despite opening with a promising start, The Beginning moves along too quickly and does not really take advantage of the possibilities of telling the origin of Leatherface. Instead, the film recreates the same predictable scenarios of the 2003 film but with less tension and sloppier special effects. There is an inherent problem with the conception of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel. The allure of any prequel such as George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels or The Godfather Part II is in answering the how and the why. While The Beginning actually pieces together with its predecessor very well, explaining why Monty (Terrence Evans) has no legs or how Leatherface got his first mask simply does not hold very much weight for the audience and is not very interesting.
Bottom Line: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a mediocre horror film. It is certainly brutal but it does not have the kind of dramatic weight or material that it needs to pull off a prequel and it stumbles upon retelling the same scenarios in less interesting ways. If this film had been made instead of the 2003 remake and a more concerted effort was made to show the origin of Leatherface and his family, the filmmakers might have had a better picture.
Episode: #112 (October 15, 2006)