THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Director: Marcus Nispel
Year of release: 2003
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 92 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Also known as: Michael Bay's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: While travelling through rural Texas on their way to attend a rock concert five teens pick up a young woman whom they find wondering along the road. She appears vacant and extremely traumatised. Soon to everyone’s surprise she commits suicide and shoots herself in the head in front of her horrified audience. In shock and not sure what to do with the body the group attempt to track down the local sheriff. Said officer of the law proves to be elusive however leaving everyone unsure how to proceed stuck as they are in the middle of nowhere with a dead body in their vehicle.
While looking for assistance a couple of the teens stumble upon a striking and moody looking property. This turns out to be the abode of Leatherface, a demented chainsaw wielding loon with a penchant for making masks out of the skin of his victims.
Good points: *Mild spoilers: To start off with a comparison to the older movie I preferred the ending sections to this one over those featured in the Tobe Hooper version. As mentioned before on this site I dislike the infamous dinner table scene and the screaming and shouting surrounding it when it comes to Hooper’s original. Here though this is largely replaced by what’s since become a more traditional chase scene involving Erin on the run firstly with Jordan and then solo through the slaughter house with Leatherface in pursuit. Though in itself not perfectly executed this to me was a much more enjoyable way to wrap things up.
On topic with this films ending I also liked the addition of Erin flagging down a truck. This was a neat throwback to the original which at the same time was utilised in a slightly different way so it still came off as feeling fresh.
*Switching gears to the beginning of the film I also liked the newly worked intro with the kids picking up a survivor instead of a deranged hitchhiker. Like with the truck at the end I thought it was a good way of following the basic skeleton of the original in having the protagonists picking somebody up while at the same time giving things a new angle. It was a useful plot device as well being an ideal means of keeping the kids in town and also providing them with something to have minor conflict over which led to them splitting up.
*The character of Sheriff Hoyt kept me entertained and I felt that he stole many of the scenes of which he was a part. Some of his quips for example when dealing with the body in the car I thought were really good. According to the DVD extras much of this dialogue was added spontaneously by the actor and wasn’t actually initially in the script.
As well as the sheriff I was enthused with Jessica Biel’s performance in the Erin role who made for a very solid final girl.
*The Hewitt house looked very striking and made for an imposing location when the action began to heat up. It had a kind of sinister gothic look to it which I found appealing. Although it didn’t look as natural and realistic perhaps as the house in the original (in regards to the exterior) it still added to the film. Though I’m not sure if it was better than the original house I feel it at least matched it.
Bad Points: *I didn’t feel as if enough effort was made to make the kids look, act and sound as if they were a product of the seventies. Their names in particular mainly sounded like more trendy modern names that wouldn’t have been common at all years ago. Looks wise I felt they were too glamorous and up to todays modern standards of beauty if that makes sense. Jordon would be a possible exception but certainly the rest didn’t look authentic for me.
*Spoiler: The whole thing with the baby that Erin makes off with at the end was confusing and not very well explained. I can only assume that it was supposed to be either the child or at least a family member of the woman who committed suicide early on with the child then snatched by Leatherface and his clan. At one point Jordan pulls some photos out of a car which supposedly was the suicide girls vehicle which was a link to the kid but there was barely time to study the pictures to make anything out. Plus it was too far-fetched that they would be found by Jordan blindly reaching into the car. The whole thing came across as clumsy.
*I’ve said it before many times in reviews but I don’t like it when there are too many villains. As with the earlier films this was the case again here. It’s one thing about the franchise which puts me off as I’m not fond of how Leatherface always has an extended family helping him out and getting involved with the kills. I liked Leatherface here and Sheriff Hoyt as I mentioned but the other family members and townspeople I could have done without. They just bogged it down for me.
*Big spoiler: Near the end I found the part with Erin hiding in the locker unrealistic. She had placed a pig in in a nearby locker to distract Leatherface to give her an opening for attack but I didn’t notice the pig actually making any noise until he opened the locker. You would have thought it would be throwing itself back and forth in a panic though which would have not only been more realistic but a better way of distracting Leatherface. In addition I was unsure why she called him back when he went past her locker as she probably would have avoided a confrontation altogether if she had just stayed quiet. It all seemed confusing and a bit poorly put together.
Verdict: This 2003 entry into the franchise rejuvenated what I was finding to be a flagging series. After a number of lacklustre entry in particular the Next Generation this felt like a real return to form. I’m not the originals biggest fan anyway in honesty but I found this to be one of the better efforts when it comes to remakes. Despite some issues where I found things to be confusing and poorly scripted I enjoyed it, in some ways maybe more than the original. It managed to do a good job of sticking roughly to the pre set template while also adding some nice touches of it’s own.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Female hitchhiker: Commits suicide by shooting herself in the head.
2)Kemper: Hit on the head with a sledgehammer type weapon.
3)Pepper: Killed with a chainsaw.
4)Andy: Leg cut off and hung on meat hook. Is later found by Erin and begs for her to kill him so she stabs him in the chest.
5)Morgan: Suspended from a light fitting and then murdered by a chainsaw being thrust up between his legs.
6)Sheriff Hoyt: Run over repeatedly by Erin in a police car.
7)Detective Wallace: Killed by Leatherface in the epilogue presumably with a chainsaw.
8)Detective Adams: Same as with Wallace.