xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
The new version of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is a contemptible film: Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of a reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as "style" or "vision" or "a commentary on our world." It is not a commentary on anything, except the marriage of slick technology with the materials of a geek show.
The movie is a remake of, or was inspired by, the 1974 horror film by Tobe Hooper. That film at least had the raw power of its originality. It proceeded from Hooper's fascination with the story and his need to tell it. This new version, made by a man who has previously directed music videos, proceeds from nothing more than a desire to feed on the corpse of a once-living film. There is no worthy or defensible purpose in sight here: The filmmakers want to cause disgust and hopelessness in the audience. Ugly emotions are easier to evoke and often more commercial than those that contribute to the ongoing lives of the beholders.
The movie begins with grainy "newsreel" footage of a 1974 massacre (the same one as in the original film; there are some changes but this is not a sequel). Then we plunge directly into the formula of a Dead Teenager Movie, which begins with living teenagers and kills them one by one. The formula can produce movies that are good, bad, funny, depressing, whatever. This movie, strewn with blood, bones, rats, fetishes and severed limbs, photographed in murky darkness, scored with screams, wants to be a test: Can you sit through it? There were times when I intensely wanted to walk out of the theater and into the fresh air and look at the sky and buy an apple and sigh for our civilization, but I stuck it out. The ending, which is cynical and truncated, confirmed my suspicion that the movie was made by and for those with no attention span.
The movie doesn't tell a story in any useful sense, but is simply a series of gruesome events which finally are over. It probably helps to have seen the original film in order to understand what's going on, since there's so little exposition. Only from the earlier film do we have a vague idea of who the people are in this godforsaken house, and what their relationship is to one another. The movie is eager to start the gore and unwilling to pause for exposition.