There's just some things you gotta do. Don't mean you have to like it.
As much as I criticized A Nightmare on Elm Street for its subpar acting, there just might be such a thing as a movie being more well-crafted than it needs to be. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre might be one such example.
The dialogue is largely the fairly normal, throwaway kind of things that people say. By extension, the acting, while certainly not phenomenal, is entirely passable. It's shot like a documentary, further adding to the natural feel to it. The score, if you can call it that, is sparse and would more comfortably fall into the category of "ambient noise." Finally, the effects, the sort of thing that you might see and for a split second on some level of your subconscious wonder how it was done, are next to non-existent. What I'm getting at here is that once the terror ratchets up in this thing, there's nothing there to pull you out of it to remind you that it's only a movie. The last 20 minutes is exhausting. For starters, so much is left up for your imagination. There is no gore. The antagonists of the movie, Leatherface and his cannibal family, get no explanation, no motive, and aside from this brief glimpse inside their sick, sadistic lives, you're left knowing nothing about them other than that they exist. The last scenes are dizzying. The claustrophobia-inducing camera work, the metallic shrill of the soundtrack, the non-stop shrieks of the family's "dinner guest," and the set design that leaves your eye feeling like there is no safe place linger. It is an all-out assault on the audience.
While I certainly do not enjoy this kind of cruel, malicious horror film, I cannot entirely dismiss it either. While similar movies, even ones of the same era, rely on pushing the envelope and grabbing you by the hair, forcing you to see that they're pushing it in order to shock and disturb, TCM utilizes legitimately solid film making to achieve the same results. I went back an read what reviews I could find from the time in which it came out. All of them mentioned how gory and bloodsoaked it was, which is entirely not true. The outrage that this movie caused while essentially showing nothing is, to me, the mark of true craft. I don't necessarily have to like the movie to praise it.
SCARE RATING: 4/5
OVERALL RATING: 4/5