out of Five
Running time: 92
Incredibly violent and extremely gory, this is more of a remake than a prequel and it squanders the opportunity to do something more interesting with the premise.
What's it all about?
Produced by the people (notably Michael Bay) behind the successful
2003 remake, this horror prequel makes a cursory stab at explaining where chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) came from and exactly how evil Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey) became Sheriff, before getting down the serious business of killing off teenagers in a variety of gore-splattered ways.
Set in 1969, the potential victims include Dean (Taylor Handley), who's about to re-enlist for Vietnam and his brother Eric (Matt Bomer), who intends to dodge the draft and head for Mexico. They're accompanied by their girlfriends Chrissie (Jordanna Brewster) and Bailey (Diora Baird) but their plans change violently when an unfortunate car crash brings them into contact with both a gun-toting biker chick (Cyla Batten) and the sadistic Sherrif Hoyt.
Bryniarski is a reliably frightening presence, whilst R. Lee Ermey is genuinely terrifying as Hoyt and delivers his (apparently ad-libbed) lines with thinly-disguised relish. Similarly, Handley and Brewster make appealing leads, but Baird and Bomer struggle with thinly-written, poorly developed characters.
Director Liebesman ensures that there are lashings of gore throughout and the various splatter-effects are extremely well done, if you like that sort of thing. However, there's none of the invention of either the original film or the remake and the film relies on substituted blood, guts and shocks for anything resembling tension or suspense.
A prequel is an idea that's ripe with potential but the film-makers fail to do anything interesting with it – we learn next to nothing of Hoyt pre-1969, for example. Similarly, the violence is extremely nasty, to the point where you wonder why you're watching.
Well made and impressively acted but it's not for the faint of stomach and its appeal is likely to be restricted to gore-hounds.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (18)