In the mid-1970s, Tobe Hooper had unleashed horror in a new way to moviegoers with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). It was a film that had so much going for it. It may have been outrageously controversial for its depiction of sadistic violence but it served its purpose in being a scary film. It relied on simplicity and minimalism in order to drive its viewers crazy. Then Hooper created the long awaited sequel that confused his original fans by attempting to keep continuity while simultaneously changing everything else. It turned out being more of spoof of itself than being a sequel. When the franchise finally released its second sequel, it was even more mixed in reception due to its further lack of connection to the last two movies even though its title said otherwise. At that point, it would've been thought that maybe the franchise was suffering from lack of attention. Apparently the next sequel (this one) shockingly was neglected even further. It by far is the most confusing and disappointing to say the least.
|The new Leatherface,.......|
The overall idea behind the story is no different from that of the other movies before it. A group of teens end up crossing paths with Leatherface and his notorious family of cannibals. This sequel was written and directed Kim Henkel, the original co-writer to the original film that blew everyone away. According to Hinkel it was supposed to be the official sequel to the original film. As to what he thought consisted of making it the official sequel is barely visible. The writing is all over the place and the continuity is very unfaithful. Like the films before it, it begins with a monologue recounting the past events, yet it was supposed to ignore them too. So how does that work? There's also a subplot about Leatherface's family having some kind of government connection or something along those lines. Allegedly they report to a higher authority and their motives go higher than their personal needs? The most painful part of the writing belongs to the dialog and the actors don't make it any better.
Almost the entire cast essentially is an over the top exaggeration of some horror trope but worse. Starring as the heroine is Renée Zellweger best known for her breakout role in Jerry Maguire (1996). She's also accompanied by Lisa Marie Newmyer as Heather, who constantly spouts out useless sentences that don't add anything to develop her role. There's also Tyler Shea Cone playing Heather's boyfriend Barry who is none the more likable. They also come across a local who tries to help them played by Tonie Perensky. All of which can't deliver a line that sounds the least bit believable. The only thing that really keeps a viewers’ attention is because of how bad the actors are. The only actor who has some saving grace (for himself) is now esteemed actor Matthew McConaughey playing Vilmer, a member of Leatherface's family. McConaughey just hams it up playing his role as psychotic as possible. Playing Leatherface is Robert Jacks who is annoyingly bad because all he does is scream nonstop.
The only other positives worth mentioning are the practical and makeup effects. There's not an abundance of practical effects but the fact that it was used shows effort. The same could be said for the makeup. McConaughey's character is part robotic with a hydraulic leg and that does make it interesting to see. How he got that way and as to where he came from, if this is the "official sequel" to the original, is never explained either. What a surprise. This is it though for pluses. Even though there are practical effects, there is almost no gore to this movie. It makes the previous film to this franchise look bloodthirsty. It's actually very surprising. With all the inhumane and off putting scenes that involve grotesque acts, there's hardly a drop of blood shown throughout the running time to this movie. Sure, minimalism works to an extent but if nothing else is really working in the overall product, at least give the audience something visual.
|"Does this scene look familiar to you?!...."|
That also goes for background elements. The director of photography to this project was Levie Isaacks. Isaacks is best known for being the DP to movies of Guyver (1991) and the infamous horror movie Leprechaun (1993). The work that Isaacks presents here isn't much to talk about. Much of the shots throughout the film consist of turning away from anything gory and refusing to place any establishing shots. Viewers will see the disarray of the cannibal house but there's no real setup. The films before it at least had some kind of arrangement. Here it's just everything everywhere with no real order and it's boring. For music, Wayne Bell from the original film returns and his composition is uneventful too. There are moments where he creates a tune or two that establish a nice sense of dread but other than that there's nothing memorable about it. Much of the instruments involved are synthesizers and since it is not used properly, the audio is rarely effective. So sad it got this bad.
It's a shocking film all right. It's shocking that people who were involved with the original returned and had completely forgotten what made it so unique. Matthew McConaughey is possibly the only actor who tries (somewhat) and there are some okay looking effects. The rest isn't good. It makes the other sequels before it look like it they had better writers. Not even a gorehound would enjoy this.
Points Earned --> 3:10