There is no denying that horror and exploitation movies have a world of their own, inhabited by connoisseurs who scrutinize these grisly works with the precision as one might view Fellini’s 8 1/2 or Jonze’s Her. And although my personal stance is of utter repugnance towards these mostly gore-fests, it would be vacuous to evade them completely, for once in a blue moon, some movies rise from the standards of these pulp reels, and establish them worthy to considered seriously. Over time, Texas Chainsaw Massacre with ‘Last House On The Left’ and ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ has grown in reputation as a serious work which encapsulates the terror that true horror emanates. And after watching it, I can see why. It is four times a better movie than what the title seems to promise.
It follows a group of friends as they wade through the outlying areas of Texas on their way to the ancestral home of a character bound by the wheelchair. A chance encounter with an uncanny hitchhiker materializes and things start going south, ending up with almost all these friends meeting up with terrible fates ranging from the ponderous sledge hammer to the serrated chainsaw at disposal.
One of the reasons why Texas Chainsaw Massacre works has to be the depiction of violence. Unlike other low-budget gore fests whose violence is mainly concerned with giving the viewer an inherently flawed human anatomy class when it happens on-screen, Tobe Hooper, the director of this movie, makes sure minimal attention is drawn towards the act. On the other hand, the camera focuses on the helpless reactions of the characters who have the grave luck to witness the atrocities being committed on their pals.
Most of the horror is atmospheric, with the ravaging fields of Texas set against the backdrop of a setting sun with a chainsaw yielding cannibal providing a genuine tingle to the hairs on my neck. But does the plot justify the horror that ensures ? No, it does not.
My foremost problem seems to be the spoon fed lines of Franklin following the terrifying encounter with the meshuga hitchhiker. All though none of the other characters seem to reciprocate his fears (which they should, considering how such an event will surely perturb people), the lines which Franklin says is completely directed to give the audience a sense of fear of the impending fate of the characters although it is completely unnatural to the scenario being played out. There is a huge cringe worthy moment where Franklin in a fit of anger mimics Sally’s laughing pitch which is probably one of the worst scripted comedy moments I have seen in recent times.
But none of these minor mishaps outweigh the principal quandary :- Isn’t what Sally endures much of her own flawed decisions ? The final character in this madness to endure is Sally, but to truly love and feel terrified of this movie, one needs to sympathize with the impending doom on the characters. Not giving too much away, Sally and Franklin have an argument which is a complete farce in the name of logical reasoning and seems to be played out only for the sake of playing out the climax.
But as much there is to criticize, there is to applaud in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It deserves to be considered in the same vein it is now – as a serious work of film-making. I would be lying if I said at its best Texas Chainsaw Massacre failed to scare me. Unfortunately, I would also be lying if I said the moments which lead up these terrors justify the artistry of the latter.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a good movie. The only reason I am dissatisfied is because it showed the promise of being something much more.
RATING :- 5.8 / 10
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