The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
with Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Andrew Bryniarski
Directed by Marcus Nispel
Written by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
by John Bikowski
The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is widely considered one of the top ten horror films of all time. Therefore, contemplating a remake takes a lot of balls. Producer Michael Bay took on the task and kicked some ass. The remake manages to stay faithful to the original while providing some new insights and modern day polish.
There are an abundance of camera techniques that capture the necessary grimy, sleazy feel while drawing the viewer in with virtuoso dives and flash cuts. At one point, we’re forced to look through the hole in a blown-out face. But just having a polished-looking film isn’t enough to guarantee a hit with today’s jaded horror fans. I feel the key element in this remake is the cast. The girls are extremely hot and the guys are suitably macho and intense. However, they’re more than just eye-candy, they react and converse like real people, which helps the viewer give a crap about what happens to them.
We all know the story: A group of young folks are traveling through the armpit of Texas and pick up an unbalanced hitchhiker. Their act of kindness is repaid with a non-stop horror tour courtesy of a seriously deranged cannibalistic family. One of the family members, Leatherface, likes to attack with the titular chainsaw and wear masks made of his victim’s faces. The 2003 version works from that basic framework, but fleshes out its own characters and motivations. We start off strong with a sweaty van ride, kickin’ up dust to “Sweet Home Alabama” with Jessica (no way in hell is this body is from the ’60s) Biel singing along. Erin (Biel), her boyfriend, Kemper, and three of their pals are on their way to a Skynyrd show when they decide to pick up a girl they almost run over. This proves to be a bad move when she removes a bloody gun from between her legs(!) and proceeds to blast her skull out the rear window of the van. Erin and Kemper head off to find help at an old homestead while the others try to meet up with the local sheriff. Bad move on both accounts. What ensues involves desperation, despair, death, and lots of gore. The film even offers an explanation for Leatherface’s need to disfigure people: He grew up a pissed-off, deformed, friendless child. Also notable is the intensity of the deaths. The victims suffer immensely and they don’t die quickly. I’m sure there’s nothing like being skewered on a meat hook over and over again, and that’s just during a misguided rescue attempt. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is raw and entertaining and is a worthy homage to the original classic. Definitely check it out.