‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ (2003) is not a film for the weak hearted… or those with weak stomachs

Jessica Biel leads a cast of young, beautiful people in the 2003 remake of 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'
Jessica Biel leads a cast of young, beautiful people in the 2003 remake of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

[rating=3]Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski
Director(s): Marcus Nispel
Writer(s): Screenplay by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Scott Kosar

There are two reasons to explain why I didn’t view the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre before watching its remake. I didn’t want my review of the remake to be colored by comparisons. Also, I was just too damn scared — especially after I made it through the bone-chilling remake!

Loosely based on the real-life rampage of murderer Ed Gein, referred to as Leatherface” in the film,Texas Chainsaw Massacre opens to an “idyllic” summer scene where we happen upon a group of teens in a van on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. They’re horny. They’re high. They’re in love. They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them.

Or do they?

Our would-be heroine is Erin, who 7th Heaven’s Jessica Biel plays as an intelligent, sober teen in love with a pothead boyfriend she hopes to marry. In spite of myself, I found her characterization likeable — a good thing considering Texas Chainsaw Massacre warns us early on that Erin will be the sole survivor of this trip. Erin is the reluctant leader of a troop of teens on their way to be massacred.

The hot, dirty summer scenes slowly degenerate into chaos. When Erin forces the group to stop for a bruised, bloody hitchhiker, you know they have made their first mistake. Already, their first step towards Leatherface is gory one. Quickly and without warning, we witness the hitchhiker use a gun to literally blow her brains out the back for the van. The scene is vivid with blood and brains, not to mention the vomit of several of the riders. The heart-stopping bloodbath only spirals downward from here.

Jessica Biel fights for her life in this remake
Jessica Biel fights for her life in this remake

Texas Chainsaw Massacre seductively reels you in through the fear and mass hysteria of its characters, especially that of our heroine. While the teens are forced to wait at an abandoned mill for a tardy, twisted sheriff who has promised to collect the body, Erin surveys the area with disgust and fear. Impatiently, she wanders through the forest towards a creepy house in search of a phone.

The forest is an awful, confusing array of abandoned cars and broken dolls pieced together in a manner reminiscent of Toy Story’s creepy doll murderer, Sid. Erin slowly realizes that she and her friends have entered into more than they ever bargained for. Everything becomes edge-of-your-seat perilous when Erin enters what we can only infer is Leatherface’s home.

The basement is a landscape of large meat hooks used for fresh human bodies. Eyeballs, arms and human flesh that are strewn about only work to fuel revulsion. Meanwhile a Leatherface that is quite light on his feet picks off the characters one by one with the help of the craziest of townfolk. He lurks in the most remote corners of the house and forest. Just when all seems safe, Leatherface jumps out of darkness to whisk away our characters for the most gruesome of tortures.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre ensures that we participate in every second of torture. In a macabre house of horrors, we watch Leatherface chainsaw their body parts and strip their flesh only to sew it together for his mask. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the stuff nightmares are made of.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not a film for those weak of heart or those with even weaker stomachs. It is fast-paced and chock full of shocks with surprises at every turn. Like Lola, Erin runs. She is only given a moment to breathe before she’s forced to run and hide some more. She is endearing as she tries to defy death while saving her friends. And at her best, in the spirit of girl power and strong scream queens, Erin is pissed off! She’s not going to take it anymore. She dares Leatherface to bring it on!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre brings it. It successfully, strategically and systematically petrifies. Our worst fears are realized in a bloodbath that has no shame. Every moment steps the terror up another notch. Texas Chainsaw Massacre dares you not to scream. So you can imagine what I did — I screamed (and trembled) my little heart out!

The original DVD release lacks any features of merit. Besides one sickening music video, it is also home to seven TV spots and trailers. The trailers include other horror films like Willard and Butterfly Effect. New Line recently re-released Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a “New Line Platinum Series Special Edition.” It offers considerably more features, including deleted scenes, alternate openings and closings, cast screen tests, commentary, two documentaries and DVD-ROM content.

Rated: R
Run Time:  1 hr., 38 mins.

Aliza Hausman

A native New Yorker, Aliza Hausman is a freelance writer with an obsession for film who will watch anything for the sheer thrill of being entertained. See more at WWW.ALIZAHAUSMAN.NET.

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