Year of Release - 2006
Rating - R
Director – Jonathan Liebesman
Running Time – 90 Minutes
Studio – New Line Cinema
Very much a remake of a remake, you’d be hard pressed to find much of a difference between the 2003 TCM remake (of the 1974 classic) and TCM: The Beginning, although to be fair, there’s probably not much more of a spin they could put on a story involving a mask made-of-skin wearing chainsaw-wielding maniac. My argument against all remakes to begin with, but that’s another story for another day. However, if there is a compliment to give TCM: The Beginning, it’s that it does it much better than it has ever been done before (the whole remake thing, that is) and this includes the 2003 TCM remake. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the original any day of the week, but for my movie going dollar, I’ll also take TCM: The Beginning because it really manages to get it right. It’s brutal and often terrifying, and delivers more bang for your buck than most of your modern horror today – remake or not.
The story of 4 teens who wreck out and are subsequently kidnapped by the family from hell is tried and true, so no surprises there. No social commentary, no deep and meaningful sub text to ponder over pie, just pure terror…and plenty of it. TCM: The Beginning rolls down that hill and doesn’t let go from frame one, goodness knows I’m not one for hackneyed quips, but by gosh if this one wasn’t one heck of an exhilarating non stop thrill ride!
Of course the argument can be made that there isn’t much of a beginning here, which negates the title and purpose of the film to begin with. There’s a (very) brief prologue, and before you know it Leatherface is fully grown and ready for action. Although we do learn how he winds up with his signature mask (it’s not as impressive as it sounds though). What I did like was the same sense of family that we get from the original ‘original,’ something that I felt was missing from the 2003 remake. Say what you want, but this sense of demented family is at the heart of TCM and really its driving force to success.
Performances are really great in this one as well. R. Lee Ermey is truly manic as Sheriff Hoyt; he’s completely insane and practically steals the show. Supporting cast members on the ‘mental family’ side are equally impressive while our ‘victims’ do a good enough job of looking sexy and scared, which is quite the winning combination I might add.
Then there’s Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface himself, and while Andrew certainly has the build for the part and he’s a truly menacing figure, I’m a little saddened by the fact that he plays the character as a ruthless serial killer, rather than a mentally challenged product of his environment as in the 1974 classic.
Word on the street is that New Line had to make a fair share of cuts to achieve an R Rating, which is pretty impressive considering how brutal the film is as it stands now. It’s unflinching, and while we never really get a chance to know these characters as well as we may have liked, we still care. And in the end, it’s still really great entertainment. See it.