Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The (2003)
Starring:
Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Eric Balfour, Erica Leerhsen, R. Lee Ermey
Directed By:
Marcus Nispel
Grade
C+

Everything gets a remake nowadays, or so it seems. In the schlock horror genre, though, you have to pick and choose which titles get remade as most titles just aren't worth the effort and time to redo. Even fewer have the "name-recognition" to draw people back into the theaters. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though, is one of the true classics that a remake could really do well. So, in 2003, director Marcus Nispel took a shot, adding more modern film-making and a lot of polish to bring this classic back to life.

The story behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre is as such: In 1973, a group of teenagers were driving back through Texas on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Dallas. On their way there, they stop to pick up a distraught girl walking along the road. As they try to take her to the nearest town, she freaks out and kills herself, forcing the teens to look for the local sheriff so they can be rid of the dead body and head on. At this point, everything just turns sour. Eventually, they run across a decrepit home and a chainsaw-wielding sadist who hacks his victims to pieces and makes masks from the faces of his victims.

When it comes to the movie itself, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is actually filmed well and both looks and is presented better than 99% of the genre, even the more recent crop of slasher horror films. There is a lot of well-framed shots and the use of light and shadow gives a great tone to the film. When it comes to acting, most of the cast prove to be good, even though there is only rare moments when the script allows for actual character development. Most of the cast is pretty over the top, lead by everyone's favorite mean ass, R. Lee Ermey, who plays the town sheriff. The girls scream often and loudly, the townsfolk are all mental and everyone suffers and dies brutally as needed. There's nothing spectacular about any of the performances, but they work for the film genre.

Rather than following the psychological horror trend, the film focuses on straightforward horror with lots of chasing, terrified teens and people being hacked to their untimely demise. While I had heard that the film was exceptionally gory and brutal, I found most of the violence to be, well, tame. That's not to say that you won't cringe from time to time, but it's obvious that the director took the route of not going overboard on the bloodletting. And, for that, I'm thankful.

So, is the movie good or not? If you like the genre, then yes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pretty good and can be enjoyed. If you don't like the genre, then skip it as the movie is pretty by the numbers. Rarely, was I ever surprised or even caught off guard by the script as everyone plays their stereotypical roles and the script is your standard fare. Don't expect any surprises and you might enjoy the movie for a night.

- - Vane

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