Top positive review
Brutal and uncomfortable, well worth a watch
on October 2, 2017
If you're a fan of the TCM series -- and why else would you be watching this? -- then the chances are that you'll love this entry, a prequel to the remake of the original cult classic. Made on a relatively low budget, the movie is gritty, claustrophobic, and often downright uncomfortable to watch. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to take a shower afterward, and for the right audience that is by no means a bad thing. Our setup -- young Thomas/Leatherface losing his job at the meat packing plant, with violent consequences -- soon segues into meeting the inevitable victims, two men and two women. Set in the Vietnam era, there's an element of social commentary going on with some conflict between two brothers, one of whom went to Vietnam and another who burned his draft card. This turns out to be significant to the plot later on when they fall foul of Leatherface and his clan. The standout performance undoubtedly comes from R. Lee Ermy, doing his second turn as the sadistic and perverted 'Sheriff' Hoyt. Ermy is electrifying to watch. You hate his guts (no pun intended) but at the same time find yourself rooting for him to win. The one bad point about the plot is that we know, broadly speaking, how this is all going to turn out, thanks to the events of TCM itself: Hoyt and Leatherface have to survive in order to appear in that next movie. However, this is really an origin story for both characters, and the fun and fascination is all about seeing how they got to be who they turn out. Fans of the franchise will love this prequel. Others most likely will not.