Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Alternate opening and
closing; 'Chainsaw Redux' documentary; 'Gein: The Ghoul of Planifield'
documentary; Commentaries with producer Michael Bay, director
Marcus Nispel and others; Cast screen tests; Art gallery; TV spots
and trailers; Music video.
TOBE Hooper's defining horror movie gets a glossy makeover in
time for the Halloween season, courtesy of producer, Michael Bay,
and pop promo director, Marcus Nispel.
But the result, while certainly begging the question 'why bother?',
is actually nowhere near as offensive as one might have feared,
even though it pales in comparison to the original.
The story behind the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is well-known.
A group of misfit teenagers, on their way to a concert, happen
upon a remote mansion, and stumble into the ultimate nightmare,
as personified by the chainsaw-wielding mutant, known as Leatherface.
Hooper's original was a deeply disturbing affair, made all the
more creepy courtesy of its cheap look and warped imagery.
A cast of unknowns also meant that you simply didn't know what
to expect, and who, if any, would survive.
Nispel's update, or 're-imagining' is an altogether brasher affair,
which suffers immediately from a feeling of being over-produced.
There is a slickness about it which doesn't feel right, while
the penchant for violence seems designed to appease the bloodlust
of modern audiences - I mean, what else could justify the inclusion
of a shot taken through someone's head after they have blown their
own brains out?
Intriguingly, Hooper's original contained very few chainsaw sequences,
whereas the remake does.
Leatherface, it seems, cannot resist the urge to rev up the saw
this time around, and Nispel, courtesy of some Bay-style visuals,
cannot resist glorifying (or goryfying) it somewhat.
The kids in question, this time, are the usual set of moody,
dumb, hopelessly pretty, scantily clad and rebellious no-hopers,
whose day takes a turn for the worst when they almost run down
a blonde stranger.
No sooner have they attempted to calm her down, however, than
she has taken her own life with fear, prompting the teens to seek
help in the form of the local sherriff.
A gas station attendant subsequently directs them to a rendezvous
point which, it turns out, is a mere ruse to get the teens to
a mansion populated by a family of rednecks, so that the butchery
Needless to say, one by one, the friends meet their bloody ends,
seldom overcoming the urge to walk around dark corridors alone.
Jessica Biel, of Rules of
Attraction fame, eventually becomes the lone survivor, and
it is up to her to escape and reveal the horrific tale, while
implementing some payack, of sorts.
Baring in mind that Nispel is trying to update one of horror's
most memorable creations, this remake isn't a total disaster.
There are certainly plenty of chills for the die-hard thrill-seekers
out for a quick fix this Halloween, and the performances aren't
Attempts to move the story forward, too, by book-ending it with
footage from the subsequent police investigation, and by suggesting
at a family set-up for Leatherface, and a back story, at least
provide a diversion from the usual stalk and slash mayhem.
It's just that the psychological element has gone, while that
true sense of horror, which comes from watching something genuinely
unsettling, as opposed to gimmicky, is absent.
The curiosity factor, alone, should pack people in, while its
gore level and occasional frights, should get the necessary adrenaline
flowing while in that darkened room.
This doesn't, ultimately, make it a good film, and once that
curiosity has been satisfied, and the lights come up, you can't
help but wonder what was the point?