A Remembrance of Things Past, If That Thing Was Getting Diddled By Your Uncle.
Have you ever had deja vu? Now, have you ever paid $10.50 to have deja vu of a bad memory? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is kind of like flashing back to the brown acid trip at Woodstock '94: awful, confusing, and full of retarded 18 year old boys dressed like Fred Durst. The first Texas remake was awful, and this prequel does nothing but remake the remake. Ostensibly a prequel, this film appears to be set approximately 93 minutes before the start of the first film, filling in all the details we were dying to know regarding what Leatherface had for dinner before tried to kill Jessica Biel (people, incidentally). This is as much a prequel as vomit is the sequel to Jack Daniels and cocaine. The sheer disrespect for the audience is much more appalling that the rape and graphic violence that are splattered all over the screen like my sperm on a daycare window. And no matter how many pedophile jokes I make, tasteless though they may be, I will never offend anyone as much as my intelligence was insulted by this sad and pathetic attempt to weasel a few extra dollars out of the 18-25 IQ set. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a grim, gritty, nasty little film that explored the demise of the American family and the collision between the realistic and the insane. The remake was the same thing, except with a slightly higher chance that My Chemical Romance was going to start playing their new single halfway through any given scene. This prequel takes the enhanced stupidity of the remake and the music video aesthetic and, uh, does nothing with it. It just gives it another shot, like a rewrite on a final paper in Stock Slasher Sequels 101.
The plot follows a group of stupid kids who crash their stupid car near a stupid inbred family that eats people. So, they get eaten, apparently as appetizers for the car full of stupid kids that get eaten maybe 90 minutes later in the other Texas remake. The cast making up the doomed teens are barely worth mentioning, made up entirely of kids who may or may not have been on The OC, as well as Jordana Brewster's eyebrows. The only part of the film worth noting is the performance of Full Metal Jacket's R. Lee Ermey, who has parlayed yelling obscenities into a lucrative career. He's creepy and horrible, and is probably not acting, but his performance is unsettling and manages to keep the film's head above water. The special effects are also helpful in maintaining a sense of tension, but it's broken any time Jordana Brewster's eyebrows deliver one of the horrible lines of Aliens-era Ripley dialogue that pepper the script like macho punctuation. The thing that made the original film work as well as it did was the realism with which the characters responded to their surreal situation. Marilyn Burns, the star of the 1974 original, didn't react to being chased around by an obese man in a butcher's apron by mouthing off with hollow heroics; she just screamed a lot and ran through a second story window. Here, our heroine's eyebrows manage to pluck up some unrealistic courage, fire off a couple of unreasonably snappy one liners, and launch into acts of supreme courage that smack of the Rambo school of character development. I don't know about you, but every time I chain a young woman to my dinner table while feeding her parts of her friends, she barely says anything snarky to me, but that may be because it's hard to talk when you've got a mouthful of pig's genitals.
Director Jonathan Leibesman has seen a great many television commercials, as well as the first remake, and feels the need to emphasize that over any personal style he may or may not have. The lighting is as dark and scary as a quarter of a million dollars in halogen can look, and the music is only interesting when it's remembering the 1974 film's soundtrack. Sadly, I can remember the original movie too, and I remember that I want my $10.50 back.