When they say the Beginning, they really mean it: In producer Michael Bay’s prequel to his 2003 remake of the 1974 horror classic, we flip back through the Leatherface family album all the way to 1939, when the badly disfigured future chainsaw wielder crawls out of his mother’s womb on (where else?) a slaughterhouse floor. Then it’s on to the Summer of Love, when Leatherface finds himself the victim of meatpacking-industry downsizing and turns his attention from bovine to human pursuits. Enter the requisite carload of nubile young things: two brothers (Taylor Handley and Matt Bomer) en route to Vietnam, their respective girlfriends (Diora Baird and Jordana Brewster) in tow. Few surprises await connoisseurs of torture cinema, though unlike its 2003 predecessor, this Massacre owes less to Bay’s own attention-deficient aesthetics than to the more measured, Georgia O’Keeffe–on-acid sensibility that guided Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel’s much cannibalized original. The director, Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls), has a strong graphic sensibility, and the overall tone is less punishing than you expect. The longer it stays on the screen, the closer the movie comes to the full-throttle nihilist comedy that Hooper himself seemed to be striving for in his own misbegotten Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 3, 2006