After so much fanfare, debate, editing, re-editing and controversy - Rob Zombie's directorial debut arrives with more of a whimper than a bang in cinemas this month. The result? Overhyped most certainly, and nowhere near as gory or controversial as you may think (something like "House on Haunted Hill" had about an equal amount of carnage), yet there's some surprisingly impressive work here from Zombie who manages to at least give this tired retread of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" an interesting visual appeal. This is direct-to-video fare at best though with the limited budget quite heavily on display in both the sets and the ultimately limp material.
Sadistic horror films aren't exactly in short supply right now - last year saw a glut of shockers in the genre,
the worst being the woeful "Fear.Com". 'House' is definitely better than that though ultimately just as pointless.
A few years back "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation" came out which had a frumpy Renee Zellweger running and screaming as Matthew McConaughey and a family of bad hair oddballs made scary faces and every now and then carved up her friends. This film is practically the same save for one element - some deft work by Sid Haig as the fun but creepy Captain Spaulding. The rest of the family though, with the exception of Jeanne Carmen who seems to be having a ball, and our requisite 'victims' are wastes of space really with only little explanation and a penchant for high toned giggling.
There's no real attempt to develop a plot, the retread of famous serial killers of the Mid-West seems very tired, and of course the last 30 minutes in which our wrinkled teenage heroinne cries as creepy mental patients drool at her you just want to fast forward through. Zombie works the camera well and his music talents allow for a good use of the hard rock score, but ultimately despite all the visual trickery there's a lack of atmosphere, tension and even shock. The most controversial film of the last few years? Hardly - certainly not one of the best (or even cohesive) in any case.