The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

2003, Movie, R, 98 mins

Review

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, THE
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There may well be people who haven't seen the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974), but they probably don't want to see any CHAINSAW MASSACRE; if they did, multiple copies and sequels are no farther away than the nearest video store. Music video director Marcus Nispel's remake, produced by proud vulgarian Michael Bay, contains just enough pointless "twists" to give the filmmakers an answer to junket roundtable questions like, "What made you want to do a new version of this genre classic?" Like the original, this variation puts four attractive and underdressed young people plus the obligatory ugly friend through blood-spattered hell, but this time around it's as predictable as it is dull. Two couples — sensible Erin and handsome Kemper (Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour) and high-strung Pepper and over-sexed Andy (Erica Leershen, Mike Vogel) — and the inevitable unattached prankster, Morgan (Jonathan Tucker) are driving their van through Texas after a four-day vacation in Mexico. Unbeknownst to the girls, the guys bought two-pounds of marijuana, now hidden in a piñata. Between horsing around and smoking dope they've gotten themselves off the main road and, in a moment of inattention, nearly run down a young girl walking by the roadside. The girl is obviously traumatized, so they pick her up; she repays their kindness by pulling a gun and blowing out her own brains all over the back of the van. The youngsters stop at a roadside gas station/barbeque restaurant in search of the sheriff, and the sour-faced hag behind the counter tells them to meet him out by some old deserted rust bucket or other. Being good kids, they oblige, and soon find themselves knee-deep in southern-fried psychosis. The Sheriff (R. Lee Ermey) is a redneck sadist, the old man who offers to let Erin use his phone is a vengeful cripple and his son, Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski), wastes no time skinning Kemper and impaling Andy, alive and blubbering, on a meat hook. Commence the running and screaming. Nispel and Bay hired original cinematographer Daniel Pearl to underlight the film so badly you can't see any of the much ballyhooed new gore effects, and John Laroquette returns to read the film's "based on a true tale" introduction, this time with credit. But unlike Rob Zombie's underrated HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003) or even the meat-and-potatoes WRONG TURN (2003), this new SAW film is so utterly unimaginative it doesn't even count as hommage; it's just a smudgy copy of a still chilling original. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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