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Employee of the Month; Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

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THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING
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, resourceful lad that he is, 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—about to discover they're what's for dinner. Few surprises lie in store for connoisseurs of torture cinema, though unlike its 2003 predecessor, this Massacre owes less to Bay's attention-deficient aesthetics than to the 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 — the decrepit farmhouse where most of the action takes place looms on the desolate horizon like some godforsaken Tara — and the overall tone is less punishing than you'd 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, from an obese woman used as a makeshift doorstop to none other than Gunnery Sergeant Hartman himself (a flamboyant R. Lee Ermey, as Leatherface's adoptive uncle) taking sadistic glee in dispensing with flag-waving patriots and beatnik draft-dodgers alike. (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)

 
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