The fourth film in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series comes with an unlikely cast and a brand new bunch of psychos, though we do get a Leatherface of sorts.
No Texas Chainsaw Massacre film has been quite as heavily panned as this one: barely anyone saw it and the few who did didn't like it. The Next Generation (originally released as The Return Of The Chainsaw Massacre) sees a new bunch of teenagers driving off into the middle of nowhere before meeting up with a bizarre bunch of nuts. The Slaughters (that family's actual name lol) are led by Vilmer, a demented truck-drivin' Matthew McConaughey on full force complete with remote-controlled artificial leg and sadistic tendencies. Here's a guy who's not shy about having a major screw loose. He takes his time, savouring his victims' every scream and since he's not a cannibal (pizza's more his thing) like that other bunch of loons, his motivation is pretty much motivated by cruelty alone.
Oh, also I guess he needs to rip out some face skin for Leatherface to dress up in drag and stuff...
The way the film's plot progresses is very similar to the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre: you get the camera flashes early on, Leatherface running after someone in the woods, the meat hook scene, the "false hope" character, the dinner scene, the van scene at the end. It's all there but slightly updated, as if The Next Generation was a reboot. It's actually a bit of a confusing one to place since, without ruining too much for ya, you do get a direct link with the original film at one point but it isn't a direct sequel and it's unclear how both events are related or why nearly the exact same thing happened somewhere else entirely. Then again maybe I'm thinking too much about a trashy, cartoonish, low-budget horror sequel no one even bothered to watch in the first place...
Renee Zellweger is the usual "virgin survivor" character who has the privilege of not dying straight away like her less-capable friends, although how that bimbo pal fo hers managed to escape from a meat hook I'll never know. Bridget Jones does a decent job of looking scared and disgusted throughout making this probably the less irritating she's ever been in a role. It's, on the whole, a surprisingly decent cast and everyone gives it their best shot despite the samey, under-developed premise. Top marks to McConaughey for royally hamming it up and making this "next generation" an entertaining one.
Underrated and not nearly as bad as they say, The Next Generation is a fun little horror flick and although, of course, it never reaches the uncomfortable, raw genius of the original, it works as a cartoonish update.
Yes it could have been much better but as it stands, it's a perfectly acceptable entry into the franchise.