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Hacksaw (2020) Review

Hacksaw certainly doesn’t waste any time getting graphic. Six minutes in and writer/director Anthony Leone shows us the killer using a power drill on a woman’s vagina. And no, there isn’t a sex toy attachment involved. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this kind of sexual violence, especially right out of the gate. It caught me by surprise and had me cringing. Which left me with one question, after an opening like that, where will Leone take the rest of the film?

Max Hart (George Jac, South of 8) introduces an episode of his show from the very warehouse where Ed “Hacksaw” Crowe killed over 300 people before meeting his own end. This tells us who the killer is and how evil he is before the film switches to found footage mode and introduces us to our actual leads, Ashley (Amy Cay) and Tommy (Brian Patrick Butler, Thane of East County).

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These two have just gotten engaged and are taking a road trip, during which we learn she’s a bitch, and he’s annoyingly passive-aggressive in response to her bitchiness. Their trip gets interrupted by segments of Max’s show, which tells us a bit more about Ed. Which is useful because you know the happy couple is going to make a detour to check out the warehouse.

After its brutal opening, Hacksaw doesn’t just get less intense, it gets absolutely boring. Endless road footage shot out of the car window, close-ups of somebody lighting a cigarette, and bickering over everything. The one bright spot is a vocal cameo by Sadie Katz (Clown Fear, Automation) as a DJ.

The excerpts of The Hart Show aren’t much better, Max is a bad Geraldo wannabe and only serves as a source of exposition and backstory. He’s basically a walking info dump, and an annoying one at that.

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Hacksaw only runs sixty-eight minutes in total, but the 30 or so minutes between the opening murder and the time Tommy and Ashley get to the warehouse seems to go on for hours. It’s seriously mind-numbing. Once they get there, though, you would expect some tense cat and mouse scenes in the dark building, right? Almost immediately, Ashley runs into the obviously not dead killer. But the film cuts away from a fight between Tommy and some Leatherface wannabe for a long static shot of the building’s exterior.

The last twenty minutes does feature some graphic gore, along with a bit of rape and torture. Ironically, Leone has cited The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as the inspiration for Hacksaw. Considering that the film is all atmosphere with almost no graphic gore, he seems to have missed the point. Possibly he was thinking of the sequel, as he’s also expressed admiration for its star Dennis Hopper. Though that was over Easy Rider, which, he says, inspired the road trip scenes.

Or maybe he’s just full of shit because Hacksaw actually feels like a bad attempt at a Rob Zombie film. And being able to do better than 31 or 3 From Hell is a pretty low bar to clear.

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Overall, Hacksaw is a mess. It jumps from conventionally shot to found footage to clips from The Hart Show and back again almost randomly. It goes from colour to black and white just as randomly. And speaking of random, what’s with the attempt to make it into some kind of supernatural film at the end?

If you’re looking for well done gore and pretty literal torture porn, Hacksaw will deliver it, as long as you’re willing to do a lot of fast forwarding. If you want a movie with a plot, characters and what passes for a script just about anything, even Hooker with a Hacksaw, is a better choice.

Hacksaw is available from Midnight Releasing, you can check their Facebook page for details.

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