Friday, October 20, 2006
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: the Beginning
Posted by 50PageMcGee
Like the Descent, this one really leaps out of the gate -- except where the Descent plunged in like a knife wound, this one's more of a festering disease, infecting everything, eating everything.
Octo mentioned as we were leaving the theater, "I found it really reassuring that R. Lee Ermey turned out to not be a real cop." He dons the disguise very early on in the film and as he does so, I'm thinking the same thing -- at least nobody elected him to anything. Come to think of it, it was at that exact moment that it dawned on me just how alone these people are.
I'm not talking about the victims...well, yeah, I guess obviously them too. But, I really mean the perpetrators. They have absolutely free reign over their dominion and their dominion has been brought to its knees. The meat factory, the sole factor keeping the entire county afloat, has been ordered shut down by the Texas Department of Health. People have left. Miles and miles of desolate grassland and, heck, they've only got one cop left and he's moving to Michigan next week.
There's nobody around and the Hewitts are starving to death. Facing their slow, lonely demise, they are transformed through a series of grim acts of violence into figures of the deepest religion. Out here, it's just us, our plight, and our salvation.
Five people play party to the killings in one way or another. Only two of them are really responsible for the actual violence: "Sherriff Hoyt," who is actually Papa Hewitt, and his nephew, Tommy: the big guy. The others do their best to enjoy the meat provided for them by the Good Lord, while ignoring where it came from and how. Shortly after the quartet of victims is abducted, Uncle Monty comes upon the two brothers tied up in the garage. They beg for help from this new face, but he can only stammer that he doesn't want to get involved.
However, the moment comes when the blinders come off of everybody, and it comes the moment the chainsaw is first heard in the house. We've known it's there since the first five minutes of the movie, but it doesn't get cranked up until the midpoint of the flick, and when it does, it shakes the hell out of everyone. Quickly, the camera flashes on the faces of people throughout the household. One of the faces is Luda Mae Hewitt, who polishes her illusive faith and dignity throughout the carnage -- upon being called a psycho by one of the girls, she gasps, clutching her chest in offense, "I won't be spoken to that way in my house." But once that chainsaw comes alive, the illusion is swept away. There's blood on her floor now. Her house is tainted with the stench of brutality and she can no longer pretend she doesn't at least smell it.
One final note: I found it far more appealing that this movie didn't attempt to doll itself up with FX gimmicks. I refer specifically to the shot I appreciated the least from the TCM remake that came out in 2003 -- the shot of Leatherface wearing Eric Balfour's face. It was a pointlessly hot-dog CGI move, to say nothing of the fact that it looked crappy and fake. There's a scene here where Leatherface does the exact same thing and it's with a real mask. It's got coarse edges and it fits unevenly. It is the face of twisted murder, and it's a loathesome thing to behold.
This is the stuff that the worst of dreams and the direst of miseries are made of.
at 12:02 AM