ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
A Massacre of the '73 classic
By Brent Carpenter
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Starring: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, R. Lee Ermey, Andrew
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
New Line Cinema/2003
HORROR, THE HORROR! Reactions to a terrible movie, from
left to right: Chainsaw’s Eric Balfour, Jonathan
Tucker, Jessica Biel, Mike Vogel and Erica Leerhsen.
The Texas Chainsaw Massare is one colossal piece of shit.
This generic rehash only wishes it were a mere retread of its
inspiration, the 1973 indie classic.
There isn't much in the way of plot. Essentially, five kids
on their way to a Skynard concert wind up at a creepy farm
house, where they meet a "sweet, sweet boy" (Leatherface)
and his family of inbred hillbillies.
A shot-for-shot remake of the original wouldn't have been
a good idea (see: Psycho), but at least it would have prevented
the filmmakers from unleashing their pseudo-creativity on an
So, Leatherface now has a skin condition, huh? It's funny;
the thought of the bad guy battling it out with a rash doesn't
exactly make him any more intimidating. This was probably done
to make it more painfully obvious there are psychological factors
behind his penchant for making homemade Halloween masks. No
The problem is that his "skin condition" is so severe
that when he takes his mask off, it makes him look like even
more of a monster. More humanized killers are scarier because
it is harder for the viewer to distance himself.
Regardless, why did he even have to take the mask off in the
Movie geeks love to complain about how the film's main producer
and driving force (and zillionaire action director) Michael
Bay is the Satan of Cinema; the Sultan of Schlock.
It may be true that in the past, Bay has sacrificed the need
for a good screenplay, proper editing, effective acting and
once even faithfulness to history itself (twice counting this)
at the expense of mega-budget, often insanely entertaining,
With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, EVERYTHING is disregarded,
including plain decency, both human and cinematic; there is
nothing entertaining about this backwash. The movie is gory,
but the few kills we get are shot terribly and usually happen
just off screen.
The performances range from decent to pretty good, as acting
is one of the few areas where the movie holds up. Biel (as
Erin, the important girl) is destined for bigger and better
things, as is Balfour (her boyfriend, Kemper), who was great
on HBO's Six Feet Under, although he's wasted here.
Texas Chainsaw was shot for about one-fifteenth of the cash
it took to make a movie like Bad Boys 2, but you never once
get the impression the producers went small-scale for the purposes
of making a tighter, more minimalist film. Not that it matters.
Now, the movie can end its run with as much money as Pearl
Harbor did in its first weekend and still be a hugely profitable
Too bad part of the effectiveness of the original stemmed
from its cheap, documentary feel; it looked real, so it felt
Original cinematographer Daniel Pearl is back and does a nice
job with colour (especially in the daytime scenes), although
the overall look of the movie is pure gloss, pure Bay.
If you want to be emotionally unsettled by a movie, see Mystic
River. If you want to be entertained, see Kill Bill or School
of Rock (again). If you want to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
just punch yourself in the face and light $15 on fire. At least
that way, you won't have to drive around Masonville Place looking
for a parking spot.