Interesting Note: Shocking as it may sound, especially when you finish reading my review, this Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was produced by Michael Bay, who sits on the Committee of Directors Against Violence!
After the announcement by New Line that they would be remaking Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I found myself enraged by the thought. How could you remake something so priceless and so perfect that there was nothing to fix? After viewing Marcus Nispel’s version, it makes complete sense…. this was not a remake at all. This was New Lines way of escaping the pits of sequel hell and starting fresh, which is brilliant.
More of a fourth sequel than a remake, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is purely an emotional experience that leaves your stomach churning throughout the entire flick, which is about the only thing in common with the original. During the course of the four Chainsaws, we find out that these attacks have happened to tons and tons of unfortunate individuals. We see bones and body parts and broken down vehicles that imply this. To me, this supposed “remake” is actually just another story of another group of unlucky people who find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The story opens after a prologue by a group of cops. In an old stock-footage looking, black and white scene, the police investigate the scene of the crime and give us a taste of what we might be in for. Once they blast the title, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a group of four friends driving in a van are introduced. We find out that they are on their way to Dallas for a Lynyrd Skynard concert after swinging through Mexico and picking up a bunch of pot, which they’ve stuffed inside a piñata. While Kemper (Eric Balfour) is driving, he almost hits a girl in the road while flirting with his girlfriend Erin (Jessica Biel). If you’ve seen the preview, you know that the hitchhiker says “they’re all dead” and that they shouldn’t go the way they are going. The girl freaks out and some incredibly surprising accounts occur, which lead them in to the hands of the crazed loons behind the dubbed ‘Texas chainsaw massacres.’
It took me a good 24-hours to digest what I have just witnessed, and be able to somewhat put into words what I was feeling. The trouble I was having is deciding whether or not I liked the film, I had too many emotions rolling after the screening to be able to just stop and write them all down. After I’ve done some thinking and processing, here’s my thoughts, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is pure shock cinema; to me, this was a true horror film. There is nothing funny about it, nothing fun, nothing normal, there is no doubt that this is a Texas Chainsaw Massacre flick. The film is unsettling, disturbing, and most of all relentless. TCM makes you beg for survivors, because you don’t think you can handle another victims untimely demise.
The way that debut director Marcus Nispel attacks you is just plain evil, and yet brilliant. If TCM were a boxing match, Nispel would have really messed you up in the ring. When you walk in early and have your guard down, he throws numerous unexpected punches right in your face, catching you by surprise. Then he progresses to “tease” you will little jabs in the face by throwing the typical “cheap” scares in with loud noises and things popping out, which makes you flinch and feel completely uneasy. Now he knows you’re expecting these jabs, so he works in some new punches, this time to your gut, and he hits you hard, this is his specialty, only he was setting you up the whole time! I know I like to compare films to the Ring remake (review), but it was so perfectly done. Just like in The Ring, Nispel uses various tricks to make you feel uncomfortable and on the edge of your seat, even when nothing’s happening. A mix of freakish camera work, unsettling images, a quiet soundtrack, creepy surroundings and a group of the most demented people you’ve ever seen, make Texas Chainsaw Massacre a sickening flick.
The most insane part of Nispels endeavor into true horror, is how relentless he is. Using the over-rated Blair Witch as an example, Witch was cut into two segments throughout the flick, the daytime, and nighttime. The daytime was supposed to give you some chance to recover from the events the night before, to prepare you for another round of craziness during the night. Unlike Witch, Texas Chainsaw Massacre gives you no breathers, its like someone is tickling you to death. Once the film kicks into high gear (about 40 minutes into the flick), there’s no stopping Nispel, he goes for the knockout. The kills are bloody, the skies are black, the families are evil, the sheriff (R. Lee Ermey) is sick and twisted, Leatherface is violent, the chainsaw is loud, and there is enough madness to make you think you’ve just watched something off a Faces of Death video.
Like I said, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a real horror film, there is nothing funny about it. The scares are real, the emotion is real, and you beg for it to end, you beg for someone to escape the madness! TCM is a big risk for New Line, word of mouth might actually spread that this is just too much for some people, and this could actually be a major turn off to some. But to others, they’ll find this “remake” bliss, and will be satisfied knowing that the emotional content holds true to the original, some people enjoy feeling like crap when the movies rolling, why else would so many people like Titanic? I really, really hate to admit this, but Texas Chainsaw Massacre was almost too much for Mr. Disgusting, and think about this… I was in a screening room with 30 other professionals (with the likes of Roger Ebert) and I didn’t jump once, only I could see almost everyone else shitting their pants; and I thought it was too much?! Imagine what this will do to some of your girlfriends you drag with to the theater (not implying that females are weaker), you’re going to have to talk them to sleep because they’re going to be so traumatized. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a once in a life time experience, films like this don’t come along everyday, take the chance, and check it out this weekend… if you dare.
Write your own reviews or talk about the film over at the TCM review thread.