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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
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Review Date: October 14, 2003
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writer: Scott Kosar
Producers: Michael Bay, Mike Fleiss
Actors:
Jessica Biel
R. Lee Ermey
Erica Leerhsen
Plot:
Inspired by true life events, as well as its similarly titled 1974 cinematic predecessor, this movie tells the tale of five young kids in a van (down by the river?) who pick up a hitchhiker on a deserted backroad and slowly, but quite unfortunately, fall prey to a backwards, redneck family who like to mess with tourists' heads...literally! Jessica Biel looking hot as hell and a man who likes to sew peeps up for a living...ensues!
Critique:
I expected this film to be flashy, full of boob shots of Jessica Biel and packed to the gills with MTV tunes "for the kids", but surprised was I to find myself actually feeling uncomfortable, tense and quite disturbed by this apparent "re-imagination" of the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (one of the few horror movies out there that actually scared the pants out of me) In fact, if you forget about the fact that the filmmakers obviously whored this film's title out in order to score some free marketing points, and don't mind the many gratuitous shots of Biel running from one water-infested situation to the next (I welcomed them-- let's dump her in some muddy water, then let's drop some beer on her, then let's turn the sprinklers on, then let's have it rain all over her wondrous ta-tas...I swear, Roger Ebert's gonna love this movie!), you might just get into this wholly unoriginal plotline about a gang of kids puttering along in the middle of nowhere and running into the "wrong people". I personally wasn't impressed by this film's story (I think I've seen enough of these movies to last me another year or two: WRONG TURN, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, anyone?), but was impressed by its actors, its atmosphere, its eerie documentary style opening/closing, its ability to creep me out, its "boo scares" and ultimately, and probably most importantly, its entertainment value. If you're looking for an intense Halloween horror experience, you really can't go wrong with a movie that features a relentless madman who likes to hunt human beings down like animals and slice them up with his trusty chainsaw. I swear, one look at this guy and I was shitting my pants despite the nachos and the many people between us.

I also liked how there were very few plot holes, which actually had me feeling for the kids in question and sympathizing with their very unfortunate situation. Some basic background info on each of the group members also helped me give half a shit about them. The film also lacked any sort of SCREAM-esque pop-culture overkill or dinky soundtrack, both of which were greatly appreciated. In fact, other than the film's first 5-10 minutes, expect very little in terms of "light" moments in this movie. The acting also has to be mentioned as everyone from Biel's cotton top to the nut who played Leatherface to the local hicks to the group of kids leading the adventure in question, came across as believable and genuine. The man who absolutely stole the show though was R. Lee Ermey, the great actor who we've seen swear and beat down on folks for years, but who takes his macho brand of ass-tearing to another level here. Major props to Ermey for giving the film that extra bit of terror. On the downside, I thought some of the "stylish" shots were a little too obvious, like all of those lovely sunrays shining through the forest, the last 20 minutes or so were fun, but felt a little redundant, the "family's" reasonings weren't touched upon in any which way or form, other than to say that the kid was "teased" as a child (hey man, so was I, but you don't see me carving into my next door neighbors, do you...uuuuhmm, seriously though...do you???) and like I said earlier, the fact that I've seen films based on a similar variation of this film's plotline a zillion times before, didn't help me feel any less "been there, seen that" throughout. Having said that, I will give the filmmakers credit for taking a story that has, in fact, been done a zillion times over, and still creating something that rings scary, gory and unsettling.

On a more serious note, I would like to officially start a campaign to nominate Jessica Biel's white tanktop as Best Supporting Actress in a movie this year. I mean really...if it wasn't for that top (although granted, the jeans were also great as supporting actors), I'm not sure if I would truly have believed her character's utter distress and sense of unease. I heard that the shirt was "method" on the set and that it studied under Adler at the Actor's Studio. It showed.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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