Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Flashbacks: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writer: Scott Kozar
Starring Jessica Biel, Jonathon Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, Eric Balfour, Andrew Bryniarski, R. Lee Ermy, David Dorfman, Lauren German and Kathy Lamkin

This was the first of the modern remakes to really make a killing at the box office and I think really started the trend of remaking just about every horror film that has come down the pipeline. Though the film does not hold a candle to Hopper's seminal classic, I think it is a solid and good horror film. I think what helps it the most is Ermy's portrayal of Sheriff Hoyt. He steals all the scenes that he is in and to me he is more diabolical and evil than Leatherface. I also think it did not help that Bryniarski is a weak Leatherface, he has nowhere near the presence that Gunnar Hansen has and it really shows in this film. The film also relies much heavier on gore than its predecessor and though it works well for the film, the less is more approach of the original is better. The cast of victims is good too, I personally really enjoyed Biel as the final girl in the film and it didn't hurt that she fills out a tank top so well. The film has many pros as well as a fair number of cons.
The plot basics are this, five youths are traveling through Texas on their way to a Lynryd Skynyrd concert, when they stop at the side of the road and pick up a hitchhiker (Leerhshen) who seems to have been through hell. They try to get answers out of her, but before they know it she pulls a gun out of her dress and puts a bullet through her head. They then freak out and stop, and look for help from the locals and soon they meet the local Sheriff (Ermy) and all is not well. Soon, they begin to get picked off one by one by a disfigured maniac with a chainsaw (Bryniarski). With the malevolent sheriff on her heels it is left to one lone survivor (Biel) to outwit the maniac and his family. But will she retain her sanity when all is said and done?
This is a expertly crafted film. Nispel's direction is taut. It is very atmospheric and scary. He sets up the scenes very well, one of my preferred scenes is right before the hitchhiker puts a hole through her head. The scene is dripping with dread until the moment when she pulls the gun out. It is a great scene that uses the viewers dread to accentuate what will happen. The script is good. It is similar to the original but different enough to be seen as its own film. It gives you some character development with some of the lead characters, such as Erin and Kemper. Which makes it all the more tragic when Erin finds out what Kemper was planning to do that fateful weekend. The high point of the script though is Sheriff Hoyt, he is by far the most memorable character in the film. The cast is good, especially Ermy he relishes every scene he is in and commands all of the viewer's attention with every moment. Biel is a good protagonist. The only real failing cast wise is the poor choice of Bryniarski as Leatherface, he just brings no personality to the character, and that is a shame. The SFX and makeup effects are quite amazing in the film and definitely one of my favorite things about the film. The hole in the hitchhiker's head dripping with blood is a personal favorite. The amputation scene toward the end of the film is great too. The score by Steve Jablonsky is great too, it uses the score from the original well but also builds on it and makes the music its own. This is not the best remake, but I think is a damn good one.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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