When a studio has run out of competent sequel ideas for their horror franchises you can guarantee a prequel or origin story is coming next. Very rarely do horror movie fans want a convoluted background story to an iconic killer. Leatherface is no different, although this is more of a story about the Hewitt family than the chainsaw wielding killer.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning is a prequel to the remake & opens with the surprise birth of Thomas, aka Leatherface. That his mother would die during childbirth & all of this would take place in a slaughterhouse just made me laugh more than it should have.
I mean what kind of statement is this scenario trying to tell? That he was born into slaughter? Lacking subtleness with this idiotic plot point, its childish use of blood just makes the whole opening scene worse. I’m not complaining about gore…I mean, this is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre after all but a torrent of blood & deformed baby alongside it is embarrassingly puerile.
The baby is dumped in a bin & found by a woman, Luda Mae Hewitt, who takes him home to her husband where they raise him as one of their own.
The movie than jumps 30 years forward…that’s right, no scenes of little Leatherface struggling in school, getting his first spot or having an awkward first date. The beginning part of the title? Well, we saw him born.
Thomas Hewitt now works in the same slaughterhouse he was born in (he has been surrounded by slaughter his entire life, get it? *sigh*) but the place is being shut down. Thomas has been fired & told to go home, something he isn’t too happy about. For reasons that make little sense, he kills his boss & takes a chainsaw back with him.
The writing in this movie is diabolical, awkwardly trying to jam Texas Chainsaw related plot points into the movie in a hope that it will appear coherent. His motivation to just murder his boss is based on insults but Thomas would have been hearing them all his life. So let’s say he snaps finally…but murder? Not just murder but brutal murder? Yeah, I’m not buying it.
Leatherface takes a backseat for the majority of the movie from this point on as Charlie Hewitt kills the Sheriff (and the last law-enforcement officer in the county – how convenient!), assumes his identity & starts feeding the rest of the family on his remains.
It’s all utter nonsense with no decent explanation of how the family ever got to this stage.
Of course, what would a Texas Chainsaw movie be without a few forgettable youngsters ready to die in gory & brutal fashion?
The two brothers, Eric and Dean alongside their respective girlfriends, Chrissie and Bailey are driving across the Texas on route to enlist in the Vietnam War. Eric, the older of the two has already served time & is excited to go back while Dean hasn’t got the heart to tell him that he doesn’t want to enlist. It’s a sub-plot that serves little purpose beyond giving the Charlie Hewitt a reason to treat them like dirt.
After they suffer a car crash, Hewitt arrives pretending to be the Sherriff & uses that power to capture them taking back to his home. There he slowly tortures them while using Leatherface to deal with them should they get to unruly.
Lots of violence, blood, gore & screaming ensures for the remainder of the movie. No actor here is going to win any Oscars anytime soon but it is fun to see R. Lee Ermey playing the raving psychopath, Charlie Hewitt. One of the more enjoyable people involved, he is way more of a threat than Leatherface could ever be.
Talking of which…barely on screen for most of the film, it’s all about showing off iconic moments that no-one ever considered iconic because we’d never seen them before nor needed too. Want to see the first time Leatherface puts on another persons face? It’s all here, with no context or reasoning. He just decides to take the face off one of the other characters all so we can get some big piece of brooding music & shock moment later in the movie.
A major issue with most prequels is that you already know how the movie is going to end. Here, we know the victims can’t possibly survive otherwise they would have gone straight to the police and we’d never have gotten the first film. Knowing that, it makes it impossible to care one bit about what happens to them. Why get invested when you know that they’re going to die? There are plenty of other reasons to not care (they’re bland as hell) but knowing their fate from the start is a pretty big deal breaker.
Even still the film tries to ‘fake out’ the ending all for a lazy & stupid jump scare. Of which there are plenty throughout…poorly thought out loud moments such as someone banging on the car window suddenly. You’ve seen it all before & there isn’t anything fresh or original here.
Boring for the most part with a poorly told story that stumbles from one ‘Leatherface’ moment to another while making little sense of it all. Very violent and very gory to the extent that it often seems overdone. There is little to recommend.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The Beginning