WARNING! A FEW SPOILERS
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning tells the origin story of Thomas Hewitt, alias Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski), and his clan of flesh-eating, psychotic murderers. We learn right away that nature vs. nurture goes a long way in rearing a child. R. Lee Ermey essentially takes Leatherface and the film, under his wing, in a masterfully sadistic performance that rivals John Jarratt in Wolf Creek. Self-appointed Sherrif Hoyt (Ermey), with nothing better to do a in a dying Texas town, takes to the young deformed child, and teaches him his thoughts on becoming a man, and survival.
Those lessons define Leatherface’s inner being, as Hoyt essentially becomes his voice and only friend. They also create a brutal guiltless killer, who will later prey on two Vietnam enlistees (Taylor Handley and Matthew Bomer) and their girlfriends (Diora Baird and Jordana Brewster), who are on one last road trip before they’re sent to serve overseas. The young men parallel Hoyt and Leatherface, as the older, previously enlisted Eric (Bomer), educates Dean (Handley) on his ideas of survival and how to get used to the "weird smell of death next to you". Wise lessons for what they are about to experience.
When the travelers get into an accident in Hoyt’s town, they are taken to a secluded house of horrors. We also begin to see the rich cinematography details that define the indoor shots of the Hewitt home and the meat packing plant. Director Jonathan Liebesman, unafraid of visual experimentation, uses camera focus and filtered light to describe various characters’ states of consciousness and fear. Even the use of blood was carefully thought out and not without merit. It was used to define a sense of pure evil, and at other times, utter sadness and loss.
The tragic, inevitable ending, still satisfies, as we never quite know if this film will have a neat, audience-pleasing finale, or if something else is at work.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning could easily win the award for best popcorn movie of the year… That’s if one could hold down their popcorn while watching.
Review by Rene Carson, editor FilmFetish.com © 2006.