The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Unnecessary and boring slasher remake.

Released in 2003, certified UK-18. Reviewed on 01 Nov 2003 by Scott Morris
Texas Chainsaw Massacre image

Picture the scene. Halloween. Midnight. Hands down the scariest time of the year. Terror stalks you at ever corner, leaping from the shadows of the pitched night to attack the darkest corners of your soul. You take a seat for the mildly expected remake of one of the most notorious films the world has ever seen. You spend the next ninety odd minutes struggling to stay awake. Yup, it's another inadequate teen oriented horror! Joy!

I've grown to dread the release of each new horror movie because deep down I know I'll be watching it and I know I'll be writing about it and I know I'll be struggling to find a new and interesting way to say, "This blows, it's not scary, avoid.". It should be now be pointed out that Texas Chainsaw Massacre blows, it's not scary, avoid.

In this effort, much like its forefather, our disposable teen heroes are sawed into their component parts by a freakishly deformed face stealing redneck assisted by said fruit basket's nutty extended family of horror shows. Frankly I can't be bothered writing much more of the plot, (although god knows there isn't much more to it) as like in all movies of this ilk it's an afterthought to the bloodletting.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre image

This is unfortunately the crux of the issue. It's just so boring. Utterly and astonishingly boring. Quite how it ended up in such a state I'm not altogether sure. Our prospective teen victims are perhaps a shade more accomplished than in its peers. From a technical standpoint it's at worst solid. That it feels as cold and lifeless as the reappropriated flesh around the hulking Leatherface's deformed gulliver is a strange thing indeed.

Michael 'Bad Boys II' Bay is down as producer of this monstrosity and it's tempting to blame him for it's inadequacy. In the same way that Bay takes the normally very exciting concept of 'stuff exploding' and made it dull in his recent big budget dangleberry here debut director Marcus Nispel takes the normally very exciting concept of 'chopping off limbs' and makes it dull. Something that is normally at least guaranteed to raise a chuckle if not a fright from this hard-boiled cynic, but it took almost all of my concentration to stay awake to see it. Not promising.

Which isn't to say it deserves to be slaughtered in the same way tripe like Wrong Turn, Darkness Falls and Dreamcatcher needed to be. It's far less reliant on cheap tricks like the orchestral stab technique (see above reviews for our ever present sound design rants that apply to a lesser extent here) than these travesties. There are even some very nice touches to start out with, such as a great tracking shot after the teen's hitchhiker decides to blow a hole in her head with a revolver. From a reaction shot of the stunned kids the camera pulls back through the bullet wound and out the back window as the same trajectory as the lead did. This seems like another Bay-ism and to give it due credit it's pretty effective. It's a false promise, the only touch of ingenuity in a film that desperately needed something to set it apart from it's fellow slashy-slashies.

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It never develops it. It trades only on its second hand glory but does nothing to deserve any of it's own. Given the very, very familiar setting and images of recent films it begins to seem almost familiar, breeding contempt. The grotty cabins, inbred hillbillies and lines of wrecked cars have been guest starring in Wrong Turn and Cabin Fever and that's only from this year and off the top of my head, there are others that I've forgotten, I'm sure. There's nothing much different here to make me care. The teens are still bland and characterless, the resident evil less than enthralling, the supporting basketcases less enthralling still.

It's the cardinal sin of horror movies. The victims aren't charismatic enough for me to want them to survive and the psycho isn't exciting enough for me to take pleasure in his work. It's annoying because on the whole Massacre isn't an offensively bad film, it's just boring. When all's said and done that's the only thing I can take from this film.

It's not exactly disappointing because I wasn't expecting this to be any good at all but I can't shake the feeling that this ought to have been far better than it turned out to be. It doesn't even have the decency to be amusingly awful. I can't imagine even diehard genre fans getting much out of this scare-free and given it's hype surprisingly gore free effort, leaving this recommended only to those who like to see teenagers hung out on meathooks and I can't imagine that's a huge cross section of the community.

Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 1/5 TippyMarks.

Marcus Nispel
Cast list:
Jessica Biel (Erin)
Jonathan Tucker (Morgan)
Erica Leerhsen (Pepper)
Mike Vogel (Andy)
Eric Balfour (Kemper)
Andrew Bryniarski (Thomas Hewitt)
R. Lee Ermey (Sheriff Hoyt)
David Dorfman (Jedidiah)