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Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Beginning (2006)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Starring:
Jordana Brewster/Chrissie
Diora Baird/Bailey
R. Lee Ermey/Sheriff Hoyt
Andrew Bryniarski/Leatherface
PLOT-CRUNCH
Four teens driving across Texas get in a car accident, are kidnapped by a psycho Sheriff (Lee Ermey) and are then tortured/killed by him and his family of loonies. Deja vu anyone?
THE LOWDOWN

People may not remember what we say here tonight, but by God they'll remember what we did. - Sheriff Hoyt

To be totally straight up, I initially had little love for this prequel to the remake of the original 1973 classic. The trailer made it look by the numbers within the franchise its toying in and I’m personally sick of seeing the same damn film over and over again. Then I read a couple of advance online reviews from peeps proclaiming it to be this year's be all and end all of genre films, so I got jazzed up a tad. Now that I’ve seen it, a lesson was leaned: always stick to your initial instinct.

Now don’t get me wrong, TCM THE BEGINNING was far from being a lousy film. It was skillfully shot, perfectly echoing the grind house 70’s feel it was going for while succeeding in milking potent tension out of its tired (to me anyways) formula. The gory goods at hand also mallet-hit my spot with gusto. The flick was brutal, sadistic and mucho graphic in its human butchering. You wanna go Wild Bull and see red? You will here mark my dirty words. Finally, the whole was freaking tighter than a vice-grip! They cut the fat out on this one, resulting in a brisk pace that didn't muck around when it came to taking us on quite the macabre ride. So what’s my f*cking problem then? Well for a film that calls itself a “beginning’, there wasn’t much of that jive in this stew. Sure we did get compelling glimpses of an origin story for good old Leatherface and his family of cannibalistic kooks but that’s all they were, glimpses, solely there to justify the title. Once out of the way; there was little to zero differences between this "beginning" and the remake it precluded.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one! Why did George Michael cross the road? Cause his dick was stuck in the chicken. How about this one? Four teens: a low rider Jeans wearing brunette, her dark haired smart ass boyfriend, a blonde haired dude softy and his hottie gal-pal get in a car mishap in Texas. Psycho Sherriff pops up, they’re all captured minus one (low rider), torture ensues, low rider sneaks around (at least it was on all fours most of the time) until the Leatherface vs. Low Rider chase bit capped it all off. Sounds familiar? It should, it’s the same freaking movie as the original remake right down to the wardrobe! What ever happened to going against conventions? Surprising one’s audience? Taking some chances? Taking into account this storyline has been gutted to death via the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, the remake and the countless imitators (from then and now), you would think that this “beginning” would attempt something fresh in its unraveling of events or even the order of its body-count! You know, mess with our expectations! NO DICE! What a shame! Just having a worthy opponent to the family in there would’ve made my day and with one dude being a Vietnam vet, I was so hoping for that. Didn’t happen either...

With that sipped and spat out, this mean machine was definitely on the money as to what it did and I won’t take that away from it! All the bases were covered: strong acting (Watching Ermey swear and be a badass is always a delight), genuine frights, toe biting suspense, ample plasma and efficient visuals. Too bad there wasn’t a milligram of originality in this meat pie and that it didn't go far enough into Leatherface's make or his family's to justify its "beginning" monicker. In my useless opinion, you've seen the first remake, you've seen this one! It takes more than winking at (and not going far enough with) the original's famous "dinner scene" to qualify as novel. COME ON! Re-fuel this SAW already its slowly running out of gas!

GORE
It got grisly and graphic in this slaughterhouse. I don't wanna give the kills away too much but will yap this; chainsaw fun, sawed off limbs, carved off flesh, slit throat and more! Get that stomach ready; it will get churned.
ACTING
Jordana Brewster (Chrissie) was good at looking scared and let the low riding jeans and her bobble cleavage do the rest. Diora Baird (Bailey) was hotter than a burger off the grill while being credible at...well...looking scared. Although less funny than he was in the remake, R. Lee Ermey (Sheriff Hoyt) again stole the show as the cussing, evil yet endearing nut-ball. Andrew Bryniarski (Leatherface) shined when given the chance as our fav power toll wielder, I wanted more of him! Taylor Handley (Dean) and Matthew Bomer (Eric) did what they had to do well.
T & A
Undies, bra, cleavage and low rider Jeans; it didn't go beyond that. The ladies get shirtless dudes showing off their 24 packs.
DIRECTING
Less flashy than Nispel was with the first remake, Jonathan Liebesman stuck close to the series' roots, with his gritty, 70's vibed and tension laced show. After getting the shaft with Darkness Falls, the lad finally got to show his skills in a better setting. Good job!
SOUNDTRACK
We get a minimalist, somber, down and dirty score that worked and stabbed the house hardcore!
BOTTOM LINE
I am very conflicted with this remake of a remake posturing to be a prequel to a remake of a 70's classic. On one stab, the checklist was firmly checked on all counts and it delivered the goods with panache, talent, balls and impact, all driven by a furious pace. On the other stab, I knew this story/its turns/its characters/its finale all too well and kool "origin" nuggets aside, the film rarely went further than the basic TCM narrative structure. I'm sure some people won't be annoyed by the fact that TCM The Beginning was pretty much identical to the TCM remake, all the power to them. I was, specially since it was a prequel i.e. an opportunity to expand. I really hope they up the ante on the script with the next one!
BULL'S EYE
The MPAA gave the final cut an NC-17 and by result; 17 scenes had to be snipped down to get an R rating. Expect an unrated DVD!

Groovy writer David J. Schow (who wrote TCM 3) has a story credit here.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL TCM THE BEGINNING SITE HERE

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6:04PM on 07/05/2010

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