It’s easy to harp on horror remakes that don’t even attempt to do justice to the originals they’re based on. But what about those that actually succeeds in some fashion or another? How do you act when you’re stilled genuinely scared by a remake, when you know from past experience that all remakes are generally cheap cash-ins with no heart? Well Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the 2003 remake, fits into this dilemma as the horror is genuine, the acting is solid, and the gore is…well, everywhere.
Get help! That’s a good idea when carefree friends traveling the back roads of Texas run into trouble. So they ask for assistance at an eerie, ramshackle farmhouse. That’s a bad idea – one that cranks up the whirring, ripping terror of this fear-choked re-imagining of the cult fave The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Producer Michael Bay (Transformers), director Marcus Nispel (2009’s Friday the 13th) and their filmmaking team bring edgy contemporary style to a gory frightmare. Jessica Biel leads the cast of roadtrippers who must battle the spinning steel of monstrous Leatherface. Join them for a savage game of hide and shriek.
That synopsis above is quite horrible, as it paints this film as a bit more tongue in cheek than anything. But no…this is a genuine horror film in every sense of the word. The visuals are what really make this film as it’s always a sickly shade of yellow or brown that tints the screen to create some genuinely disturbing sights. On top of that, the film itself is nicely paced with even a bit of unpredictability in the beginning of the film. Obviously you know that Jessica Biel is going to survive until the end but the rest of her crew? Who knows.
Really there is plenty to like about this film, although what it was most hammered for was the unrelenting gore that it houses. And…yeah I can see how that turned many off, as the original Massacre was much more subtle, whereas this film was almost like a Saw film with the amount of spray and decapitations contained within it. It didn’t really bother me any but when the original film was made popular by how little it showed, this one seemed to pole vault in the opposite direction. But that’s Michael Bay for you.
There’s also this recent trend of trying to unmask and humanize the murders in these films. Why someone like Leatherface needs a reason or a (real) face to be revealed I don’t know—it’s the mystery behind the characters that makes them so compelling at times. But, alas, Texas Chainsaw Massacre attempts to get away with too much in the end. Hell they even threw a baby in there to add more tension and drama.
More than anything with this film I was just surprised by how solid the acting was. The story was meh, but even acting from individuals like Eric Balfour was surprisingly good; generally he seems to screw up every production he’s involved with (24 notwithstanding…although season six did blow), but he really did a nice job for the little bit of screen time he had. Biel was the definite star of the show, however, with plenty of scenes to showcase her talents. No I won’t make a breast joke or comment how she was made to wear a very tight tank top during the entire film…I mean c’mon. Horror film + Michael Bay? What did you expect? Actually to be honest I’m surprised we didn’t get more than what we did…
In any case, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very nice looking film…but ultimately too shallow to get too invested in. The gore is simply too strong and doesn’t leave you room to wonder or use your imagination about what Leatherface might be doing…because we see him do everything. It’s more repulsive than scary, if anything. Worth a Rental if only for the season.
Warner has pushed this title out on Blu-ray in a standard Elite Blu-ray case. Extras are plentiful and ported over from the previous DVD edition, so nothing is new…but there’s still a lot to check out. Video arrives in the form of a VC-1 encoded transfer and I have to say…it really does look superb. The cinematography of this film mixed with the 1080p visuals just makes for some absolutely brilliant shots. Detail is rampant throughout and very rarely does anything major crop up to mar the on-screen presentation. It’s definitely not a beautiful film to look at by any means, but the unique mixture of colors and grain do make for some very nice shots to look at (especially the opening credits).
Audio is a TrueHD 5.1 mix and while there is no excessive subwoofer output, the atmospheric properties of this mix is really where it shines. Outdoor sequences, indoor sequences…whichever, there are plenty of little tiny quirks in each scene that play throughout the speakers in the room. Sometimes it’s more subtle than anything, but it’s still a very solid track all around. Which is good because it is the only track on the set.
• 3 Commentaries on Production, Story and Technical Aspects with Producer Michael Bay, Director Marcus Nispel, Stars Jessica Biel and Eric Balfour and More
• Severed Parts Deleted Scenes Featurette & Alternate Opening and Ending (16:41, SD)
• Comprehensive Feature-Length Documentary Chainsaw Redux: Making a Massacre, Chronicling the Movie’s Origins, Casting and Production (1:16:08, SD)
• Ed Gein: The Ghost of Plainfield – Shocking Profile of the Real-Like Killer That Inspired the Movie (24:16, SD)
• Screen Tests of Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour and Erica Leerhsen (7:16, SD)
• Motograter Suffocate Music Video (3:06, SD)
• Trailers & TV Spots (7:39, SD)
These are all ported over from the previous DVD release as previously mentioned so they’re all in standard definition. Still, that’s three commentary tracks and an hour long documentary on the making of the film. Which his actually quite interesting and worth a viewing if you enjoyed the film at all.
Overall a solid release and quite frankly for the $9.99 it’s going for on Amazon as of this writing…it’s worth that much at least, I’d think. I mean the 1080p transfer alone is quite gorgeous, the audio mix is unique and the extras are plentiful. You could definitely find a worse way to blow $10, at least. Recommended.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is now available on Blu-ray.