DIRECTOR: Kim Henkel
WRITER: Kim Henkel
Lisa Marie Newmyer
Tyler Shae Cone
When a group of four teenagers decides to leave their prom night early, get into a car accident in the backwoods of Texas. They soon realise that the accident is the least of their worries. When three of them try to find a house with a phone, they are targeted by a sadistic family of cannibals. As their group begins getting picked off one by one, they soon discover that there might be a much larger conspiracy to all these murders and disappearances that have plagued Texas.
Considered by many horror fanatics to be the worst of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre films. Rewatching it for the first time in roughly sixteen years after previously owning it on VHS when I managed to swipe the screener from work. It hasn't changed much in my eyes. The film is still pretty terrible, to say the least. I know it has it's fans, but this movie really isn't a film that invigorates and gives life to the series once more. I think that would come back into play when the remake of the original blew up at the box office and we saw a resurgence.
With Kim Henkel writing and directing the fourth entry in the franchise. I was actually pretty excited to rewatch this film. Having the original co-writer directing and writing the film, it inspired some confidence. I'd hoped that time had been kinder on the film. I hoped that maybe seeing it as an adult, it may have opened my mind up to more of the themes presented here. While I didn't remember that much of the film except for the prom setting and unhinged Matthew McConaughey, I was still excited to watch it.
Firstly, what I enjoyed about the film was that being such a low-budget film and being set in 1995. The film felt like it was closest to the original in terms of aesthetic. This is low-budget filmmaking. It looked gritty, even more so than the original movie. I think while being set in the mid-nineties, the director has delivered a film that almost feels like it's set in the seventies with the entire look of the production. If you missed the opening timestamp, you could be mistaken for thinking the film is set either the late seventies or eighties. I thought that was a nice touch.
While the fourth film in the franchise doesn't deviate away from the basic plot of the farmhouse, the backwoods of Texas, the whole family of cannibals, and Leatherface. I thought that last reveal of the mysterious Illuminati organisation who are behind this whole thirty year Texas Murder-spree to be one of the most bonkers and batshit crazy reveals added to a horror movie franchise. Where Halloween 6: The Curse Of Michael Myers does the same sort of thing. I thought this 'cult' related addition was a bit more crazy in this franchise.
The entire third act with the arrival of the mysterious Mr Rothman basically throws everything out the window. The whole organisation serves no real purpose or makes all that much sense. What I got out of it was sheer joy in knowing that in fourteen years, we would see the French masterpiece Martyrs deliver the same basic twist of a cult who are trying to bring people to the brink of death or horror in this case so they can be enlightened or see what's on the other side. It's nowhere near as successful in the execution of that movie, but I liked that it sort of felt similar.
When it comes to the performances, I think there is enough to enjoy here from two of the future Oscar winners. Here we have Renee Zellweger as our final girl and Matthew McConaughey as the villain. Renee is a pretty solid final girl. I can't deny it. She does the most with what she's got. Matthew is probably at his most unhinged. He is easily the craziest of all the family members across all four films. He is chewing the scenery here, and I loved every single second of it. The shining light for me though was Tonie Perensky as the girlfriend of Matthew's character. She's unhinged one second then sane the next. I also loved how open she was about her sexuality.
Speaking of Tonie Perensky. The highlight of the movie for me was her scene at the drive-thru. She has Renee Zellweger in her boot who is screaming. A cop car behind her and a crowded parking lot and she gets out to tell her to be quiet while not even batting an eyelid. She even requests the guy at the window to check the boot with her and toys with the cops. It's the first time that I think a family member has been so risky and unphased by the possibility of being caught. I thought this scene was actually one of the most enjoyable in the entire series to date.
Lastly, we come to the suspense and gore. This feels like another instance where the movie was also heavily interfered with by the studio. It feels edited to the point where there is almost not an ounce of blood. Another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film with no gore. As for the suspense, while I think the performances are all great and give the story some tension. The fourth entry in the series is even less scary or suspenseful than the previous film which is saying a lot. They try to go even further with this film, but it falls flat and feels even more comedic.
DEATH TOLL: 7
BLOOD AND GORE:
- We see a dead animal carcass.
- A man is injured in a car crash.
- A man is repeatedly run over by a tow truck.
- A woman's back is set on fire.
- A man is hit in the head by a low-flying plane.
- Someone has their neck snapped.
- A woman is thrown onto a meat hook.
- A woman is bitten on the nose.
- A woman has her throat stood on.
- A man repeatedly slices his chest and arms.
- A woman is repeatedly hit and shocked with a cattle prod.
- We see a table full of dead corpses.
- A guy is hit in the head with a sledgehammer.
- A woman's head is crushed.
The fourth entry in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series is just slightly more enjoyable than the third film. With a return to a more low-budget and gritty aesthetic and some decent performances from our two leads. They sadly can't save this movie. The film while following the basic formula of this series turns into a complete WTF madhouse with a third act twist. The twist feels completely convoluted and makes no sense, but I can't hate on them for at least trying. They also try to tie this movie to the original in the final few seconds which was a neat little touch. Still, this was a step in the wrong direction for the series.