The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains seared into the memories of many as a chilling exercise in horror cinema. Like many good horror films, it relied less on blood and gore on more on the imagination of the person watching. Also, the film had roots in reality, which makes the events all the more chilling. The factual inspiration for the Leatherface character also served as the basis for characters in Psycho and The Silence of the Lambs. It's really quite sad that this new retelling, courtesy of Michael Bay (Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor) forsakes much of what made the original so memorable and uses much of what every other horror movie today does.

The result is a sub-par teen-killing gorefest. Think of it as a better version of recent movies like House of 1,000 Corpses or Wrong Turn. Five teens are on their way to a Lynrd Skynrd concert when they meet a strange girl who shoots herself. While waiting for the sheriff, the kids slowly die off one by one as Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski, Scooby-Doo, Rollerball) chops them up into nice pieces with his chainsaw. None of the horny, drug-using teens are memorable except for Erin (Jessica Biel, The Rules of Attraction, Summer Catch), and that's only because she is in all the advertisements. What none of them know is that the entire hick town where they are is a trap. Even Sheriff Hoyt (R. Lee Ermey, Willard, Taking Sides) is in on the action.

Scott Kosar reworked the original script by Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel, and made a number of changes, some good and some bad. The worst was probably the decision to show Leatherface's face. Hooper and Henkel are presumably fine with the changes, because they are producers on this new film. It's just a shame that Kosar and director Marcus Nispel decided to rely on extreme amounts of violence in order to scare people. In this sense, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very lazy movie. It's not that hard to come up with different ways to eviscerate people with sharp objects. They have reduced a great film to a bland one.

The one thing they did get right is the look. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a great film to observe, and part of this comes from Bay's manic-editing influence. The tone is dark, grainy, causing it to look like the budget was a lot less than it was. Most of the sets look absolutely disgusting, dripping with brown water, blood, or other unidentifiable liquids. The houses are falling apart, and abandoned cars litter the yards. There are a few great shots of Leatherface's house at night backlit, making it seem like something alien. There is a thick layer of grime on everything, including most of the inhabitants. And Kosar does a decent job of inserting moments to make the audience jump. And the weird thing is, if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was not as dull as it is, the mind would not be able to wander than thus take in all these smaller details.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and drug content.

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