Back in 1974, Tobe Hooper released a film that would become legendary. This film terrified audiences, mainly because they’d never really seen anything like it. That film is actually pretty tame by today’s standards. I love the original because it doesn’t rely on gore and shocking violence to be scary, and uses much more effective strategies–strategies I wish more horror films used because to be honest, there really isn’t anything scary about nasty gore. That is a belief that the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre understands. The filmmakers understanding and not resorting to cheap over the top violence is something I really respect.
So what’s this remake about? Well, it follows the original to a point but introduces some originality, which is great. After all, who wants to see a complete retread of the original? That’s what 1998’s Psycho tried and look how that turned out. First, let’s get to know the poor young people that have no clue what they’re getting into. We have Erin, who is the main character, played by Jessica Biel. Next is her boyfriend, Kemper, played by Eric Balfour. Then, we have another couple, Pepper and Andy, played by Erica Leerhson and Mike Vogel respectively. Lastly, there’s Morgan, who is kind of similar to Franklin from the original, played by Jonathan Tucker. All these unsuspecting college aged people are headed to a Lynard Skynard concert not all of them will make.I, for the most part, liked these characters. The actors who play them are talented and did a good job with portraying them. I wanna take a minute to talk about Jessica Biel specifically, because, gosh, I just really loved her in this role. Biel has unfortunately had a pretty hard time finding good films to be in, but I’m really glad she got cast in the lead here, because it really gives her a chance to shine and show off her acting abilities. It is essential to give the lead role to someone who has the acting chops to really embrace it all and go for it, and that’s exactly what Biel does. The rest of the cast members are pretty good too, although to be honest they have less to do, so it’s not as damaging to the film if their performances aren’t “Oscar worthy.” Other than the victims, we have R. Lee Ermy playing Sheriff Hoyt, who does a fabulous job. I was in love with his totally over the top, menacing performance. I also really loved the very intense portrayal of Leatherface.
One of the most important questions to pose about any film is did it achieve it’s goal? I would venture to say that yes, this film accomplished it’s goal for the most part. There are intense moments that work, and the performances given do a lot to lift up a script that’s lacking in some areas. I don’t mean that it’s completely inept, but there were several times where I cringed. Awkward, tasteless comedy is the script’s biggest flaw. One character makes several disgusting cringeworthy comments that just seem very out of place, and that takes you out of the film. It’s fine to have a few comedic lines in a film like this, but there’s a right and wrong way to go about that. Here, they go about it the wrong way and it does the film a disservice. Other than that, there aren’t a lot of other negatives.
This isn’t the greatest horror film out there, and of course it’s not as great or as creepy as the original, but it’s well made. I had a lot of fun with this film and I think you will too, if you are into this kind of thing.