Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nispel's Massacre: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003 Remake)
rating: ***
starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker and Andrew Bryniarski

Perhaps that one movie that inspired the big wigs to starts remaking forgotten classics, TCM03 transpires to add what's missing from 1970s original title, meaning it's gonna live up the massacre part in its title.

In 1974, a group of youths in a cross-country vacation found themselves in a predicament they didn't expect; after almost running over a wandering, traumatized girl, the group brought her in their van in hope of finding help. But as they continue to enter a small town, the girl began to panic, pulls out a gun she hid away under her dress, and blew her brains off.

Panicked and confused, the group tries to look for any sort of help they can get, but with the locals and the sheriff being little or no help, and one of them disappears all the sudden, it soon became clear to them something's not right. As night fall, one by one, they fell prey to a cannibalistic family, proceeding to mutilate and murder them through their son: Leatherface.

Now that's a lamb chop!
If blood and guts is all that matters for a viewer, then TCM03 definitely got it by the balls; the movie's biggest selling point, it features loads more of meaty gore shot beautifully in full bloody gory, living up to the butchery that the original failed to bought onscreen. Right up after a few minutes of introducing our cast, we're pummeled immediately to a brutal suicide, setting us up to a situation that gets more tense by the minute. And by the time our hulking chainsaw man steps out in the open with his trusty powertool, things definitely turned up a notch!

With the year's new found growing love for all things gruesome and torturous, TCM03 found an audience who may or may not love the bodily destruction it should have been doing years ago. However, for those who'd seen the original, this is where the problem comes in; at a fair point, the film really lacks anything for itself, other than the gore, as it's really nothing more than the original TCM with slight differences. In fact, even slasher fans who hadn't seen the original TCM can easily spot on the paint-by-numbers story telling of this film, making TCM03 just as standard as any other slashers that came before it. It lost the nightmarish surrealism of the original (as in anything can happen), the building tension out of the ordinary, the shock value of exploitative theme of cannibalism, and what's left is an average hack and slash movie riding on a classic title.

Still, as a basic as the premise can be, it can still pass on its own strengths as a passable Hollywood movie. As I've mentioned, the movie tried to sell itself by refreshing everything from the original through onscreen gore and crisp retro-feel, even if sometimes those two just doesn't work (It never really felt like the 70s. Must be the hairdos...), so I guess it's better to try and watch this title as if there was no original. Through that, you can tell this movie's excessive gore is it's only underbelly for good praises, with some solid performances and a cool re-designed Leatherface coming by the second. More on the redesigned Leatherface, for my book. (Even if explaining why he wears the mask kinda killed his mystique.)

So much for Serve and Protect...
A third personal praise from me goes to R. Lee Ermey's performance as Sheriff Hoyt; next to Leatherface's intimidating new hulked-up look, Ermey's character gave a new meaning of hopelessness for these young victims as, aside from themselves, no one can be trusted in their situation, not even the authority, as they're either abusive of their position or they're never there to help in the first place. Hoyt's a manipulating madman who sleazes and tortures his way through anyone he either desires or hate, practically having control to everything going on in these woods, making him, personally, a clever addition to the TCM mythos, adding up a realistic threat in contrast to the movie monster aesthetics of Leatherface.

Final Verdict? While not the best remake ever made, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 marked its own as a retelling of a cult hit, made to disgust and scare a new wave of audience. With Teen slashers dying at that time, lazy writers are maybe to blame for this title's lack of creative streak, but, again, so long as the blood runs freely and the saw is back, I'm open to embrace this misfit as a fairer entry to a franchise I never expected to flourish.

1 female gunshot to the mouth
1 male brained with sledgehammer
1 female back sliced open with chainsaw
1 male kitchen knife to the chest
1 male eviscerated with chainsaw
1 male repeatedly ran over by car
2 males killed with chainsaw
total: 8
Meat your maker...


  1. It's definitely far from the original, but I agree with you, as a remake its really not that bad. Much better than those 2 Halloween remakes.

    1. well, maybe not the Halloween remake, cuz that was kinda cool for me, but yeah, definitely more watchable than H2...

  2. MUCH better than those, 'tis true. But K - you hit it for me - it's a little by-the-numbers; the kids NEVER suggest 1973 - only 2003; and I don't need to see what's under Leatherface's mask or learn his back story.

    1. and yet, I love the fact it's by the numbers! XD