The original Texas Chainsaw could very well be the greatest horror movie ever made. Grotesque, twisted and utterly authentic, even to this day it’s lost minimum power to shock and unsettle the generations of viewers who’ve decided to spend time with it’s deranged clan and their various atrocities.
Which makes the Michael Bay produced remake all the more baffling when it was trotted out in 2003 as many critics and fans wondered exactly what was the point was of remaking something so terribly perfect. The blunt answer is, as it so often is with Hollywood, money. As I’ve most likely written elsewhere, you’re not going to get decent box office with something called Texas Chainsaw 5, but if you start again? That’s a different story.
Accurate accusations of creative bankruptcy aside, TCM ’03 proved to actually be not such a bad beast after all and despite being fairly episodic it manages to not only be the 2nd or 3rd best Texas Chainsaw movie ever made, but also contains enough memorable bits and pieces to tide the casual horror fan over nicely.
It’s the 70’s, because a group of the most millennial 70’s kids you’ll ever see are heading in their van decorated with 70’s memorabilia to a concert by 70’s band Lenord Skynrd (y’know, in case the filmmakers were worried you wouldn’t know what time period we’re in) and on the way they stumble upon a traumatised woman wandering on a deserted road. She then repays their hospitality by promptly freaking out, telling them that they all are gonna die and then pulls a gun from out of her vagina and blows her brains out in one of the most amazing tracking shots you’ll ever see. The kids freak as this dilemma is compounded by the herculean amount of weed that’s stashed in the van but after a bout of obnoxious arguing they decide to dump the drugs and go to the police but not before splitting up.
This proves to be a horribly awful choice as the “sherriff” around these parts turns out to be played by R. Lee Ermey, fully locked back into his Full Metal Jacket persona and setting off every red flag imaginable, but the kids have no choice to follow him. Menwhile some of the other kids have found quite possibly the most intimidating house in Texas and naturally pop in to use a phone only to discover a wheelchair bound, grumpy old pervert in the hallway and a hulking, chainsaw wielding, lunatic with a mask made of human skin in the basement.
From here on in the film plays like a mixed around “greatest hits” package of the original, giving you scenes that you recognize but in various subverted ways, for example the iconic shot of Leatherface battering a poor unsuspecting bastard with a hammer, dragging the victim into his work room and slamming the door with awful finality is redone but with superficial changes as are a quite few other iconic moments.
Still, as unnecessary photocopies go, despite boasting an odd “flashy/grime” style (like Michael Bay was given a hundred million to make a biopic about a hoarder) and being fairly forgettable, Texas Chainsaw 2.0 is diverting fun while it lasts and director Marcus Nispel has an eye for cool shots and even a little ripping off of The Blair Witch Project to bookend the film. Menwhile Leatherface actor Andrew Bryniarski, gives good, raging maniac even if he’s light years away from the mentally stunted, gender confused, gardening tool waving Leatherface made immortal by Gunnar Hansen. Although the constant leering of the camera over the increasingly bare midriff of Jessica Biel almost becomes a running joke….
In remake terms, it’s no The Thing, or The Fly, but again, no one was ever going to stand in line for a hard sequel with all the detritus that some of the sequels littered all over the place.
Basic fun – but hardly Hell for leather.