AUGUST 16, 2012
Nothing makes me happier than discovering Blockbuster or Netflix has listed the wrong runtime on a movie. In Gnaw's case, they said it was a standard 90, but it was actually a scant 76, allowing 14 extra minutes that I probably wasted on Twitter or something. But still, awesome. However, the IMDb also led me astray, claiming this was a horror comedy, and being British, I thought I was in for a Severance-like take on Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As it turns out, there's no real humor in the movie at all - it's just Texas Chainsaw Massacre with different accents.
For a movie without a single new idea in its head, it's not too bad. Again, it was only 76 minutes (and that's with credits and a hilariously overwrought opening text about how many people go missing each year), so I couldn't be too offended when it began following TCM beat for beat. It's like when kids make backyard versions of their favorite movies - there's something almost kind of sweet about it. Plus, they DO make one big change at the very end that's impressively grim, so props for that one.
I also liked the killer's disguise, though the digital video was never good enough to get a really great look at it. One difference from Chainsaw is that there are only two villains, basically Leatherface and the chef (a woman here). But the masked guy looks pretty normal, so he does his thing without it sometimes. I'm not sure if we were supposed to be surprised that they turned out to be the same guy, but if so it was a waste of their time trying to implement it, as I never doubted it for a second.
And they go all out with the cannibalism, which was nice since the last couple of Chainsaw sequels/remakes more or less ignored it. People find teeth and hair in their food, the chef bakes a tongue, and at the end... well, I'll leave that little surprise to you, but I will say it's kind of incredible. And unlike the insufferable Squeal, the guy takes his cannibalism seriously, trapping folks and taking care of how he cuts them, instead of just hacking away like that movie's Pig-men did more often than not.
I do wish the characters were a bit more likable, however. Once again we have a group of friends who seemingly don't really like each other - the nerdy guy everyone picks on, the girl who is banging her friend's boyfriend... why are these groups always so dysfunctional? I can assume that the idea is that they're so caught up in their own drama that they don't notice when people go missing for long periods of time, but that doesn't really come across, and even if it did - can't you find a better way to handle this issue, rather than making everyone we're supposed to be worried about kind of obnoxious?
The disc has a nine minute making of that's worth a look, if only because it actually provides some real information about the film's production. You certainly won't find anything like that on the commentary by director Gregory Mandry, who speaks so infrequently that I often just found myself watching the movie again and then getting disrupted by him actually saying something. Plus some of his comments are merely narrating the action or pointless "it was cold in here" observations, so it is entirely a waste of your time. The trailer rounds things out, and I'll link it below with the warning that it is not work safe (nor is there a "red band" to warn us).
Basically, if you like these sort of movies, you can do much much worse. Sure, I'd like to have been surprised by some more of its storyline, but it met its minimal goals and didn't offend my eyes or ears with poor filmmaking. So it's a fitting entry for this week - maybe it's the heat or something, but everything is "Yeah, OK, good enough". Maybe I'll hate tomorrow's movie so we can get some kind of a grading curve, here.
What say you?