Review 6: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake) (.5/5)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remake)

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermey

Released on October 17, 2003

Running time: 1h 38m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

Michael Bay, infamous for Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, became one of the creators of the film studio Platinum Dunes. And to start the studio’s career off on a very nasty note, Bay as producer and Marcus Nispel as director released this cruddy remake of the still scary horror classic: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

The original TCSM is still scary to this day with its gritty material but minimalist effects, primitive camerawork, and shoestring budget.

How does Michael Bay screw it up?

Our story begins with a voiceover, similar to the original TCSM.  “Found” footage plays, showing two police officers going into the basement of the Hewitt, rather than Sawyer, place, observing blood, hair, and fingernails on the wall on the way down. The footage is interrupted by the title screen before we can see what is in the basement.

We shift to our five teenagers driving through Texas to Dallas to see a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.

Sweet home Alabama! Where the skies are so blue (and the government’s true)! Sweet home Alabama! Lord, I’m coming home to you (here I come. Alabama)!

Our five teenagers are Erin (Jessica Biel) and her boyfriend Kemper (Eric Balfour), Andy (Mike Vogel) and his girlfriend Pepper (Erica Leerhsen), and Morgan (Jonathan Tucker) the stoner.

One tiny little plot point that is brought up and thrown away (literally) surprisingly quickly: Andy, Kemper, and Morgan have smuggled two pounds of pot out of Mexico in a piñata.

The group, after almost hitting a hitchhiker (Lauren German), pick her up. She is clearly disheveled, and, after a few minutes, pulls a gun out of her … crotch (okay.) … and shoots herself in the mouth.

After the group pulls over at a gas station and calls the sheriff, they go to “the old Crawford mill”, meeting Jedediah (David Dorfman), who tells them that the Sheriff is at home, getting drunk. Oh, and his home is about a five-minute walk from “the old Crawford mill”.

Erin and Kemper go to the house and encounter only Monty (Terrence Evans), who lets Erin use his phone. After Erin doesn’t come out, Kemper goes in, looks for Erin, an is promptly killed by Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) – oh, sorry, Thomas Hewitt! Erin returns to the group’s van to learn that Kemper is missing. Erin’s search leads to … screw it. This was my response to most of the scenes in this movie:

“SEEN IT!”

What makes this movie incredibly disappointing is its comparison to the original movie.

The original was visceral, gritty, grainy, dusty, dirty, disturbing, intense, and legitimately scary.

This remake is tired. It’s desperately trying to please fans of the original by adding gore, but it just takes away from the atmosphere. Oh, and where was the cannibalism? It’s boring. Part of what made the original scary was its primitive camerawork. In the remake, slick camerawork only detracts from the finished product. The gore is too fast and too loose, rendering it immature and ineffective. The gore does not support the story; it only underscores the movie’s weaknesses, and ultimately detracts from the already weak and somewhat confusing story. Oh, and where’s the cannibalism?

The movie’s only saving grace is a fantastic performance by GOD ON HIGH, TREASURE TO THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman himself (God rest his soul), R. LEE ERMEY! He shouts, swears, and is an all-around jerkface. And he is the only likeable character in the film.

Leatherface is FAT. How does he keep up during any of these chase sequences? What made him scary in the original was this: instead of talking, he squealed like a pig. He doesn’t in the remake. Oh, and apparently he’s not all bad. He’s just “misunderstood”. How the hell is he just “misunderstood” when in the remake, Leatherface is clearly a sadistic killer?

And so it begins – the long line of awful horror flicks from Platinum Dunes.

The spawn of Bay.

Nuts.

Final verdict: .5 out of 5 stars.

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