For those who have lost track of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, here's the deal with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning: It's a prequel to the 2003 remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, not a prequel to Tobe Hooper's original 1974 The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. And it has no connection with Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, starring Matthew McConaughey and Renée Zellweger before they knew better. Got it? Okay. Here's everything else you need to know about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning: It's really gory and really dull. Mostly just dull. And it's far worse than a cash-in prequel to a mercenary Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequel has any right to be.
Hooper's film has a blood-drenched reputation, but it built its scares out of skillfully crafted suspense. Like its 2003 predecessor, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning relies on made-you-jump shocks and more fake entrails than a Jaycees haunted house. It wastes no time in getting to either, but it's still a tremendous waste of time.
In drill-sergeant mode, as always, character actor R. Lee Ermey returns as the patriarch of an inbred, cannibalistic Texas clan which, this time out, terrorizes two attractive, unfortunate couples. The male half of one (Matthew Bomer) is on his way to re-enlist for service in Vietnam, not knowing that his brother (Taylor Handley) plans to dodge the draft in Mexico. That whole question quickly becomes moot once Ermey and his adopted, leather-faced "nephew" start chopping them up one by one, a process that sadly takes up much of the movie.
There's a lot to dislike about TTCM: TB, beginning with the fact that it repeats whole scenes from its immediate predecessor. They didn't work that well the first time around, and they aren't improved here. Really, the film is only worth considering as part of a trend of films that seem to exist to show audiences what torture looks like in graphic detail, almost as if torture had become some kind of national anxiety. But that couldn't be the case, could it?