In the early 2000's, Michael Bay and Crew created their own production company titled Platinum Dunes, producing many horror remakes in their wake. The first of many being The Texas Chainsaw Massacre released in August 2003. I'm gonna go on a stretch here and say this is actually one of the more decent Platinum Dunes production and that's saying something. I'm not saying that this is better than the original, however, it's at least better than most recent horror remakes. To keep this short, although there was some passion put into this, the original will always be a classic. I know in my first review of this I said it was slightly better than the original but here where I was wrong. Maybe as a stand alone movie, this could be a cult classic in it's own right. However, I'll seek out my pros and cons for this movie later. In all in all, its a good enough horror remake.
Here's the story: In the summer of 1973, Five friends on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, come upon a disturbed young woman warning them that trouble is headed their way before blowing a gun to her head. Now with blood on their hands, the group has to deal with the nasty local sheriff and the deranged Hewitt family, who holds a deep dark family secret that's hiding under the basement with a chainsaw to grind.
The one thing I liked about this movie is there are more to the characters. I'm not saying that all of them are likeable or anything, it's just that they have more personality and we get to know them well enough. I will say one thing though, they certainly do not look like they're from the seventies. I mean come on, I've seen Abercrombie and Fitch lines with clothing wear like this.
The strongest actor out of any of the cast is Jessica Biel.
She gave off such a raw, intense performance, I'm surprised she doesn't get much credit as she deserves. I mean Jessica Biel is literally playing a woman that's fighting to survive and it results to a truly magnetic performance.
Again, we don't know much about Erin but what we do know is that she's the type of person that does the right thing. For example, after the hitchhiker's suicide, she is the only one that is truly affected by it, and also when she figures out the Hewitt's stole a missing baby, she goes and rescues her. The thing with Erin is it doesn't matter if she's the typically innocent final girl, but is that she is the type of person that always strives to do the right thing and I think it what saves her in the end.
Okay, Erica Leerhsen as Pepper.....I got nothing. Though I do think Erica Leerhsen is a really great actress, it's just there's really nothing about this character to dwell on other than being the hot girl.
Now you see why I focused on the girls first because of how I see it, this movie has a pretty hot male cast, so feast your eyes as I showcase this:
First we have Kemper played by the very sexy Eric Balfour.
He is the very kind, sweet, loving boyfriend of Erin, though he is not perfect (he's in on the scheme with his friends harboring pot from Mexico), he's still a charmer and you're kind of sad once you see he's the first to go.
Then you have Andy played by the gorgeous Mike Vogel.....give me a moment.....okay. Andy maybe be the type to make jokes at the wrong time but he's still a cutie with his lovely hair, toned biceps, and chiseled abs. Yowza! Pepper is one lucky girl! Unfortunately, when he gets attacked by Leatherface, he pretty much doesn't have a leg to stand on....literally. And it's up to poor Erin to put him out of his misery. *sigh.*
Last but not least you have the adorably hot Jonathan Tucker as Morgan, the stoner nerd of the group. Morgan is probably the most obnoxious character but that still doesn't mean he's still adorable. Though he does get the most abuse from the Hewitt family, especially from Sheriff Hoyt, who breaks his teeth. Ouch! In the end, he dies trying to make heroic sacrifice.
R Lee Ermey was indeed chilling as Sheriff Hoyt, stealing the show from Leatherface but in a good way I suppose. Though you get a sense that both him and Leatherface are equally threatening. Although, he's basically his character from Full Metal Jacket, he has a subtle yet interesting backstory involving him being a World War II veteran who had to resort to cannibalism once he and his army buddies find themselves deserted during the war. So the filmmakers gave a unique explanation of how the Hewitt family became cannibals other than some illuminati subplot schmoozed in the middle of the movie. I'll give the film points for that for the meantime.
And now we have Leatherface, more ferocious and fierce than ever, and he's played by muscle man Andrew Bryniarski, who pretty much this animalistic force of nature. Do I like this change? Well, I feel like the childlike nature of Leatherface was more effective but I think in this version, they made him much more frightening and dangerous than ever. I'm willing to choose this over anything of how they portrayed him in Next Generation.
And like with Sheriff Hoyt, they also gave Leatherface, an extended backstory since he was bullied half of his life by teenagers for his skin disease, his isolation and depression fueled his anger which resulted him of becoming the chainsaw wielding, skin-wearing psycho that he is now. Yes, I will say that his backstory is a little similar to Jason Voorhees though at least the filmmakers tried to give him character development.
The directing is actually quite good. Marcus Nipsel brings in this sense of dread and dreariness to the atmosphere with the film's lighting mostly being grayish and almost gothic-looking. It has it's advantages and disadvantages. I could barely see a thing in most scenes and in my honest opinion, it became a sort of trend thereafter with horror films for some reason. Besides all that, just the feel of what the movie looked like was handled well. You can actually smell the blood, sweat and tears pouring out of the screen, just like how the original made you feel.
But the main thing I liked with this remake was the authenticity they put into it. Now the whole "based on a true story" thing is a little annoying, that as well became a trend for horror films but in the upmost subtle way (and yes I said subtle) the filmmakers put a lot of work into it to make it "seem" real, not that it is real but real in how they project it.
The Verdict? I would say it's a tie but original will always beat old, just on terms of realism and suspense. Though this version is your typical Hollywood horror film, however, the filmmakers at least tried to make a true Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie, and also having the curiosity of getting the original creators involved.
Both movies stand alone on their own, though, this doesn't quite hold up well, especially beside the original, it still an entertaining enough slasher movie.
My last word: If you want to, you can give it a watch, it's not for everybody but it's a good enough.