The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
3 out of 5 stars
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This seriously unnecessary remake refashions the pivotal 1974 horror classic as yet another teen slasher movie, complete with today's standard grimy production design, shrieking musical score and an almost depressing lack of originality. It's 1973 and five young people are driving back from a day trip to Mexico in their Scooby van: Erin and Kemper (Biel and Balfour) are the group's leaders, a couple in trouble when the strong-willed Erin discovers that the whole trip was basically an excuse to buy lots of hash. Andy and Pepper (Vogel and Leerhsen) can't keep their hands off each other, while Morgan (Tucker) is the nerdy voice of reason. Then they pick up a hitchhiker who changes their course and leaves them in the hands of a freaky family of local goombahs who are hiding their whacked out brother Leatherface (Bryniarski), who has a thing for chainsaws and making face masks out of, erm, real faces. Will the sheriff (Ermy) be any help at all?

Director Nispel has some very nifty tricks up his sleeve--the film looks beautiful in a music video sort of way, with shafts of light coming from nowhere to bisect each scene, water dripping in every set (and if it doesn't, there are handy fire sprinklers or a sudden rainstorm to keep things sticky), and art direction that's clearly obsessed with filth. Sadly, all of these things undermine the story because they're so artificial and silly, not to mention overused in the genre (David Fincher has a lot to answer for!). The cast is very good, bravely diving into stereotypical characters who continually do moronic things while a superhuman (all-powerful despite physical affliction, all-knowing despite mental disability) villain chases them. And the film's framing scenes are very nicely done, as are a few seriously intense sequences, such as the sheriff's encounter with three terrified young people. But mostly this is just another lame monster-in-the-backwoods movie that makes us flinch because of the sheer gruesomeness of what's on screen. We certainly never feel any real tension or fear in a story this predictable. Ho hum.

cert 18 themes, language, strong violence and gore 7.Oct.03

dir Marcus Nispel
scr Scott Kosar
with Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Mike Vogel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, R Lee Ermey, Andrew Bryniarski, Stephen Lee, Terrence Evans, David Dorfman, Heather Kafka, Lauren German
release US 17.Oct.03; UK 31.Oct.03
New Line
03/US 1h38

Bump in the night: Balfour, Tucker, Biel, Vogel and Leerhsen flinch in unison.

biel balfour ermey
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send your review to Shadows... The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Jay, Texas: 4.5 out of 5 stars "Leatherface was awesome and even scary. R Lee Ermey was totally perfect for his part as the dark sheriff. I even admired Jessica Biel as the leading heroine. Her friends were also wonderfully done, but beware trying to to get to attached to anyone on screen because you really start to feel for them. The movie had atmosphere and gore, to go along with dark mood, that would creep out even the most experienced of horror fans. I trully loved each and every camera angle in the movie. There were times when the camera was a bit shaky, but I understood that was the director's intention and forget that the director used to be a director for music videos. He does have the goods. There were some neat shots that really kicked my butt on the cool and even creepy scale. Groovy, yeah that's right I said it. Now, I totally recommend this flick. It will shock you, it'll rock you and it will saw you to death! The movie might be alittle too much, sorry. Long live the seventies, even though I was born in the eighties!" (16.Oct.03)

Aron Biro, Romania: 4.5 out of 5 stars "This third remake (TCM 3 and 4 could be considered remakes as well) is only flawed regarding its purpose and necessity, not regarding its method. And film art is mainly method. Its qualities reveal in the context of viewing all the series and countless other movies based on the TCM 'myth' (as urban/rural communication conflict). It might be one of the most solid productions in the genre (together with Calvaire and Rob Zombie's variations). David Fincher is not the most comfortable as a source of inspiration. And, of course, we can't really blame lack of originality in a remake, can we?" (5.Dec.05)

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall