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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (18)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

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 can begin.

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 bad.

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?

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