Published Oct 01, 2003The need to remake anything that's over 20 years old and could benefit from modern day filmmaking might have taken another step in territory where it's not welcome. Deemed a cinematic horror classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has been throttled into the laps of the MTV generation with the recent outbreak of popularity in thrillers on the big screen again. The only problem is that it's never a wise idea to fix something that's not broke, and the chances of actually creating a worthwhile scream film are few and far between.
Rather than stripping the original film of all its essence, this remake also takes place in 1973, as our teen magazine centerfolds cruise the Southern dirt roads in their beat up van. Returning from a trip to Mexico, strapped with a piñata of weed and tickets for a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert (how authentically '70s), our ill-fated friends make the mistake of picking up a tattered hitchhiker. After an unfortunate incident occurs in the vehicle, the group of five knows soon enough that they might not be tripping out to Ronnie Van Zant after all. The beginning of the film actually starts off on a good vibe, as we're first introduced to the scorching sun effect on the film, causing a grainy look that doesn't come off as a corny attempt to make the film look worn-in. The scenes that take place in the daylight are far more eerie and compelling than anything that occurs when night falls, and eventually turns to down-pouring rain.
Jessica Biel takes centre stage to showcase her acting ability, and her breasts, for the role of Erin, the destined lone survivor. She carries the role off well, being a frightened-as-hell girl whose life is forever altered, balanced with the anger and revenge that comes from witnessing her friends being hacked to bits by Leatherface. Biel is also oozing with curves and sexuality, a common thread with all the teenagers in this remake, which is expected in these times but backfires when trying to create any sort of compassion or believability.
The model good-looks are just one of the problems in this modern retelling, with the main fault being the fact that we are shown far too much this time around. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre worked so well because it let the viewer assemble their own gory visualisations in their mind. It played more on the mentality aspect and really didn't show much blood at all, but this is 2003 and even television is showing more disgusting images than on the big screen. So rather than create a psychological thriller, the new version opts for the disturbing approach, using graphic mutilation and blood by the bucket-load. Is it scary? Not really. The film is incredibly predictable and the shock value is very low, because these days it takes a lot more than someone's leg being lopped off by a chainsaw to get people squirming in their seats. (Alliance Atlantis)