I first saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake when it hit theaters in ‘03. Looking back, I remember liking it and thinking it was pretty gory. More than a decade later, the gore stood the test of time but not much else. A remake of the groundbreaking 1974 original, it’s the same plot with new B-list stars and a lot more blood. I didn’t like it quite as much as I did back then, but all in all, it’s a decent film. Suffering from bad acting, too much gore and a semi-boring pace, the movie stays afloat because of its villain(s), reminding us why Leatherface is so damn scary.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes place back in the seventies and follows a group of kids driving through Texas on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Along the way, they nearly run over a girl walking along the side of the road. Covered in blood and uttering nonsense, they pick her up. Moments later, she shoots herself in the back of their van, forcing them to stop in a hick town for help. They soon find themselves at the mercy of a backwards family, including one man with a penchant for his chainsaw, removing the skin from others and wearing their faces. Murder, mayhem, blood, blood and more blood fill the next hour and a half - oh, and Jessica Biel in a short, white t-shirt. Classic horror movie.
The acting is just awful, even from the gorgeous Ms. Biel, but that’s about par for the course with horror. This remake is incredibly gory; Leatherface seems to find the most gruesome ways to torture his victims. It’s a bit excessive and seems like a crutch the film is using to hide the bad acting and lack of real story. And that’s the thing - everyone knows the story of Leatherface, but that doesn’t mean the film shouldn’t enrich the plot a bit. I did feel like this movie relied a little too much on the fact that everyone knows his story instead of rebuilding it for a new generation. Because of the lack of story depth, the movie feels a bit long at times.
So you’d think all of these bad things would sink the movie, right? Let’s not forget 2013’s Texas Chainsaw… barf. This movie manages to overcome its faults by still giving us the true, evil Leatherface and his batshit crazy family. Deny it all you like, but that chainsaw is freaking terrifying. The noise gives me shivers every time I hear it. And despite his sad backstory, Leatherface is a scary, scary man. He’s a no-prisoners, no-talking-just-killing kind of guy. One of the reasons The Texas Chainsaw Massacre story is so great for horror is because it has an ensemble of evil. You’ve got Leatherface, but you’ve also got his weird, demented family. The sheriff, the old guy in the wheelchair and all the other crazies - they rally around Leatherface and help him in his destruction - all in the name of protecting their poor, deformed child. It’s pure, evil insanity at its best and not even too much gore and some bad acting can ruin that in this remake. The only way to ruin it is to change those villains, to change them at their core, i.e. Texas Chainsaw.
All in all, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake is a mediocre horror. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. That chainsaw-wielding maniac is truly terrifying, though, which makes this movie a fun ride. And hey, if you think he’s stupid or the movie sucks, you’ve at least got Jessica Biel.
If you liked The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you might also like The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw.