What a perfect year for a film like TCM: THE BEGINNING (to follow TCMTB) to hit theaters. In the midst of controversy over David DeFalco’s CHAOS, the popularity of HOSTEL and Lionsgate’s SAW franchise, this new film from Platinum Dunes and New Line Cinema challenges any pic in the past decade as one of the most brutal films ever to grace the big screen. But what separates TCMTB from the rest is not only how emotionally effective it is, but how virtues it is in its terror.
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, the film follows two brothers, Dean (Taylor Handley) and Eric (Matthew Bomer), who are on a road trip across Texas with their girlfriends, Chrissie (Jordana Brewster) and Diora Baird (Bailey), in preparation for their trip to Vietnam. On the way to their destination they hit a cow in the road and are taking into custody by the new sheriff in town, Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey). You know what’s next… or at least I hope you do.
TCMTB is the most physically draining movie I have ever seen- I was an emotional wreck by the time it was all said and done. Call me a pussy or whatever you will, but I quivered like a little girl throughout the entire film… my heart was racing at an abnormal rate like I had just drank three Red Bulls. If you challenge me I’ll straight out call you a liar, if you claim the movie was just “funny” then I’d say you have a problem dealing with true terror. I’m a hardcore horror fanatic just like most of you and I think you need to be honest with yourselves when it’s all said and done- embrace the fact that you were actually physically beaten up by a film.
Bringing back the talk of “the most brutal film ever made,” CHAOS makes the claim but can’t stand on it’s own two legs because of one important factor… we can give two sh-ts about each and every character. Unlike in CHAOS, the relationships in this prequel are skillfully crafted in a way that we not only care about the two separate couple’s relationships, but we also care about the brothers’. The conflicts are extremely relevant to the time period and are intertwined beautifully with the “Hewitt’s” own personal struggle. The Hewitts are the last people in town and are broken down to the smallest of all human needs- survival. Their town is dead, abandoned, and everyone has moved on- except them. They choose to fight back against a world that turned their backs on them and have become the hunter. Unfortunately the teens become the hunted, but while being hunted they have their own personal demons to conquer. One brother is about to become a draft dodger while the other is on his way back to the war, and ironically they end up in a war on their own home turf. In the end it becomes a duel between two families and both of their own personal struggles to survive.
As I explained, these refined characters added to the intensity of TCMTB, which leads me to the pinnacle of the film. The true test of how effective a horror movie is as a whole is when one of the main characters dies. Spoiler: When Chrissie witnesses first hand the death of her boyfriend Eric, I nearly broke down. As Leatherface plunges the chainsaw into his stomach Eric screams in pain, the chainsaw roars… and even Chrissie shrieks. The potency of the moment was so extreme that I can see people having to leave the theater. End Spoiler
Once again I want to go back to the statement, “the most brutal film ever.” TCMTB is seriously hardcore and f-cking violent. A lot of people are not going to be able to handle this. In HOSTEL much of the terror was implied with cut away editing and great sound effects, Liebesman doesn’t shy away from anything. We see heads brutally bashed in, legs broken, arms broken, teeth knocked out, flesh peeled off, heads blown off- you name it, it’s all in there. Every scene appears to be shown in its entirety, which only makes me wonder what the hell is going on at the MPAA? TEAM AMERICA has an urination scene and gets an NC-17, a guy gets his face peeled off in TCMTB and it gets an “R”? I’ll never quite get it.
But before I end this rant-like review I want to spend a moment giving mad props to Director Jonathan Liebesman. With his career tainted by that studio-ruined piece of crap DARKNESS FALLS, he had a lot to prove in what I’d like to call his “redemption piece.” Brad Fuller and Andrew Form did what they thought was the best for the franchise and took a chance on a guy who has more heart than you can ever imagine. What Liebesman delivers is one of the most terrifying and effective horror films ever made and he deserves a standing ovation (you better give it to him). He directs not only one of the most believable cast performances in a horror film in a long time, but he also brings much creativity to the screen, which is much needed in a story that leaves not much to the surprise (come on, for the most part we all know who lives and dies).
If you thought the CHAINSAW remake was rattling and intense, get ready for these poker players to up the ante- I’m willing to bet you’re going to fold. And if you weren’t a fan of the first, I’m still pretty sure you’re going to enjoy this one- if not, I understand that some people don’t like leaving the theater feeling like total and complete crap. TCMTB honestly is that emotionally intense and whether you love it or hate it I guarantee you’re going to be talking about it for quite sometime.