Written/Directed by Michael Feifer
Starring: Kane Hodder, Adrienne Frantz, Michael Berryman, Priscilla Barnes, Shawn Hoffman
Rotten Tomatoes 21%
Metacritic NO DATA
Okay, so from the looks of the reviews, most people complained that this movie is not historically accurate. Well, it isn’t. Not completely anyway. The statement that it is based on true events should be “Inspired by true events”. I think that would be a more accurate description of the content of the movie. I always take “Based on true events” with a grain of salt. So often this means that at some point in the film, someone or something is loosely inspired by a real actual event. The main character is a compilation or the idea of a certain crime gave the weak foundation for a story that twists and embellishes details or invents new details altogether.
But just stop for a second. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts off with a voiceover telling us that this is based on real events and that it’s the most heinous and brutal happening in history. WE ALL KNOW THAT IS NOT ACCURATE. So I don’t understand why people are so in a twist about this movie being the same kind of film.
Ed Gein is just one of the inspirations for Leatherface. He’s also been the inspiration for other movie villains such as Norman Bates (Psycho) and Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs). I would also venture to guess that his behavior, childhood and crimes were used as inspiration in a number of other movies although it was not explicitly stated. I mean, here you have a guy that is emasculated by his mother and abused, father and brother both die, mother has had strokes and needs help to survive (though she’s not grateful for it). He’s a quiet man, slender and meek looking. He stays to himself on his farm. He’s devastated by the loss of his mother. It’s possible he killed his brother while working in fields, a whole Cain and Abel kind of thing. He’s got furniture made from human body parts and bones, a suit made of a woman’s skin, possible cannibalism, torturous and demented behaviors…it just goes on and on. With that kind of resume, you could get a variety of killers for scripts out of that.
Kane Hodder plays Gein in this film. I’m a fan of Hodder’s so I have nothing bad to say about his acting in this film. And my complaint, though involving Hodder, is NOT his fault. I feel like the reason the filmmakers got Hodder for this film is because, well, he’s Jason Voorhees. I mean, iconic slasher villain, yeah? But, the thing is, that no matter how you want to embellish the facts of the case, no matter what you want to add to make it seem more horrifying, no matter what twists and turns you add for impact…there is no way to get around the fact that Ed Gein was a small, slender, meek and unassuming guy. He didn’t look like a big, muscular, dangerous kind of guy. He looked like a creepy guy, sure. But he also looked like a rural man, a farmer, a blue collar guy. He was quiet. He didn’t like to talk to people. He didn’t like to be around people. He wasn’t outwardly aggressive. He was lost in a world he created for himself, a world where his mother was still with him and nobody else really mattered. Kane Hodder is a big guy. Hodder is 6’4”. Ed Gein was only 5’7”. That’s a nine-inch difference. Like no one is going to notice that. And Hodder weighs 231 lbs. while Gein didn’t even hit 200 lbs. I mean, it’s like night and day. And personally, I think Gein’s stature made his crimes seem more horrific.
So, that’s my complaint about how Gein is portrayed. Again, I think Hodder did a good job but, he’s built all wrong for the part.
My next issue with this film is the Deputy. Bobby Mason (Shawn Hoffman). This guy is one of the worst actors to be a cop. I mean, seriously? We watch this man for an hour and a half and he is never happy, except when he’s making out with his girlfriend (yeah, I’m just as shocked as the rest of you, insert eye roll here). Not only is he all wrong for the part of a cop, we get two, count them, two, moments where he gets this big emotionally charged speech going and we are supposed to believe that he’s some A-List actor with an incredible performance range. I’m not buying it. And his whole speech is sooooo pointless. The whole scene is pointless. If they wanted to make a big deal out of Bobby seeing his mother as one of Gein’s victims, they could have used less for more impact. But this guy, not very skilled at acting. And the way he held a gun, it’s like he’s never seen an actor play a cop in a movie EVER. I mean, even kids know how they do it on TV. This was truly, for me, the most frustrating part of the film.
I still think that the complaint of the story not being very accurate is a little harsh. If these people complaining actually looked up Ed Gein they would realize that, for the most part, the skeleton core of the film is fairly accurate. Gein really did kill the owners of the hardware store and tavern in town and the hardware store owner’s son WAS in fact a deputy in Plainfield. Gein DID rob graves of the corpses and he DID have furniture made out of bones and skin. And yes, he DID have the suit of skin from one of his victims.
I have to say Kane Hodder makes the film and is truly the real reason for watching. It was a little slow moving and I had hoped for more gore but, for what it was, it was an alright movie.