The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

A group of young adults are on a trip in Texas to go to a concert. On their way there they encounter a group of psychopathic killers.

Director: Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jessica Biel, Jonathon Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski

MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence/gore, language and drug content

Fun Fact: Daniel Pearl, who was the cinematographer of the original film, reprised his role in this remake.

I remember hearing about the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from my friend’s parents. They told my friend and I that it was a film they had seen when they were in high school and it had scared them and their friends when it was released. Fast forward about thirty years later and this remake came out when I was in high school. I was full fledge into horror films at that point and had to see it.

I’m all for a remake if you give me something new and a fresh take on the film. This version of the film succeeds in that way. Instead of a group of people getting into the trouble they get into by being idiots, these characters get into trouble trying to do a good deed. In a way you root for the characters because of their innocence. The screenplay, written by Scott Kosar is an effective script that fleshes out characterizations for our leads. They’re not idiot’s but just normal people looking to have fun at a concert. With these characters we get some decent performances from the actors. Jessica Biel does a fine job as the lead character. This was a big role for her and she took the material seriously. The best actor of the film goes to R. Lee Ermey. He brings intensity to his character that is much needed. The way he acts is just the perfect mix. The direction they went with Leatherface was the right decision and Andrew Bryniarski was a great choice to play him. I liked how he was more of a silent character then someone making noises trying to scare the audience. Given very little backstory, this version of Leatherface is just as mysterious as the original version.

Grim, dark, gritty and nightmarish, this remake succeeds in being an effective and disturbing horror film. While the gore is amped up, it doesn’t outweigh the suspense and thrills that the audience will expect in a horror film. The gore only enhances the product of the film to make us squirm a bit. While we get to know the group of characters, a sense of hopelessness sets on them throughout the second half. Most of the characters get stuck in horrible situations with little help to get out of their predicament. Director Marcus Nispel knows how to capture the tension well from the atmosphere and acting. To get a terrifying performance you need ways to set up a premise to deliver the desired results. That brings us back to Kosar’s script giving the right details to the filmmakers to deliver a satisfying experience.

For any horror film it’s important to have impressive visuals. While not always being scary, being more disturbing is what works the best. The house they use in the middle of nowhere works well. You can tell it was a plantation house at one point and it gets you thinking, was there a history of bad things at this house? The scenes in the basement are what this film does best, dark, disgusting, and hopeless. It’s one of the more impressive I’ve seen in the horror remake phase, and the best part is that no expensive effects are needed to show us something freighting.

Overall, the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is well made. It’s a disturbing film and that’s what it set out to do. Tobe Hooper was involved in this version and it’s interesting to see more then him come back to his creation. Daniel Pearl did the cinematography on this version and the original and that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of someone doing that in that role. Jessica Biel and R. Lee Ermey round out the cast with a brand-new version of Leatherface for a new generation. Like I stated earlier, our parents’ generation had a version and now my generation has a version.

Verdict: Hit

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