It ain’t exactly a bed of roses trying to follow up one of the greatest, iconic horror movies of all time. The original classic tale of Sally Hardesty pulling up to her old homestead with her hippy friends in a Scooby Doo van only to collide with Leatherface and his deranged kin still has the uncompromising power to unnerve and chill even now.
The first Texas Chainsaw sequel, essentially a ghoulish, lunatic cartoonish reworking of the original premise, added obvious satire, removed all subtlety and was only appreciated about 20 years after it was made. The third (unhelpfully retitled Leatherface) had all the threat and weight of an 80’s wrestling promo after being ironically butchered itself by censors.
However, with the announcement of a fourth film, guided by the first movie’s screenwriter no less, a promise was made to go back to the no-bullshit, stripped back horrors of the original.
Well, we got horrors, alright…
It’s hard to know exactly where to start when giving TCM:TNG the swift and stern bollocking it so richly deserves it’s that staggeringly inept.
In a tale as old as time, a gaggle of four, awful teenagers get stranded on the way too the prom, why exactly their route had to take them through the impenetrable Texan wilderness, I’m not exactly sure. There’s the asshole teen, the stuck up teen, the teen nobody gives a shit about and then there’s the taking roles before she was famous Renee Zellwegger teen…
These vapid flesh buckets bicker, argue and then predictably split up looking for help and then are inevitably set on by the latest cannibal-clan Leatherface has decided to hitch his saw to. However, in a twist no one saw coming, unless you read the DVD cover that is, this clan is run by Matthew McConnahey and he’s not in a “awright, awright, awright” kinda mood either….
With an ego the size of one of Saturn’s moon’s and a robot leg brace that’s operated by a tv remote control that’s never addressed or explained McConnahey plays Vilmer, the deranged head of the Slaughter family. Flanked by his realtor girlfriend Darla, twitchy irritant W.E. and a Leatherface who appears to have stepped up his cross dressing several notches, Vilmer rants that he’s been hired by agents of a secret society to bring chaos and disorder to the world. Unbelievably, this actually proves to be true, with a shadowy suited man rolling up in a limo to berate the family for not being crazy enough.
Will the kids manage to survive?.. No, scratch that. Will your PATIENCE survive and what will be left of it? Not fucking much, that’s for sure.
The kids are supernaturally dumb, whining at numerous points for their tormentors to stop torturing them in the same petulant tone they’d use if their dad grounded them. At one point one lunkhead actually demands to know where a phone is mid-chase. However in a curious choice of plotting, the film makers choose to make the Slaughter Family just as annoying, all their ticks and weirdness dialed way past 11 in a hopeless attempt to mine fear but instead ploughing square into plain old moronic.
Standing firm in the face of all this shite, in a defiant power stance of a man who simply doesn’t care is, of course, Matthew McConnahey. Delivering a performance featuring not a single iota of restraint for a single second of his screen time, he makes his chest thumping in Wolf Of Wall Street seem positively sedate in comparison.
He roars, he bellows, he rolls around on the floor, he tries to fellate a shotgun and I’m pretty sure he’s actually beating the shit out of the other actors around him for real.
Imagine Al Pacino in a dirty shack performing his scenes in The Devil’s Advocate live to 5 people while smashed off his arse on qualudes and you’re two thirds of the way there.
Even franchise mast head Leatherface isn’t free of being mind meltingly awful. While the whole cross dressing aspect of his character is extremely valid (watch him don a female skin mask and apply makeup to prepare dinner in the original) the film takes it and runs like Forrest Gump. The basis of the character, much like Norman Bates in Psycho and Buffalo Bill in Silence Of The Lambs, is based on real life Wisconsin serial killer and woman suit builder, Ed Gein, but even a tuck back and a dance to Wild Horses is preferable to having a hulking monster with a chainsaw dressed head to toe in slinky black underwear while screeching non-stop.
So not only do we have here the worst entry in the Texas Chainsaw cannon (and that’s saying something compared to Texas Chainsaw 3D) but probably one of the worst horror sequels of all time. Hard-core Leatherface, Mathew McConnahey or Renee Zellwegger fans need only apply…. and even then…