Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)


Starring: Jessica Biel, R. Lee Ermey, Eric Balfour, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, David Dorfman

Rated R for Strong Horror Violence/Gore, Language and Drug Content

The good news about "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake is that it's better than the original.  The bad news is that, considering how horrid the original was (I nearly fell asleep watching it), that's not saying much.

The original film was not a good movie, and for reasons I cannot understand, is considered to be a horror classic (it spawned three sequels, a remake and a sequel of the remake, and a reboot with prequel to follow...god, will this remake obsession ever end?).  Enter Michael Bay, who has long since prostituted his considerable talents for pure greed, who produced this remake.  For its director, he chose Marcus Nispel, another music video director (albeit one with little talent, as he went on to direct the "Pathfinder" remake, the "Friday the 13th" remake, and the "Conan the Barbarian" remake).  It's his best film, but once again, one must consider the quality, or lack thereof, of his filmography in order to realize that that's so close to a backhanded compliment that one could rightfully think it would be an insult.

Five young people are going to a concert in Texas.  Erin (Biel) is hoping for a wedding proposal from her boyfriend, Kemper (Balfour).  Morgan (Tucker) is getting as stoned as possible.  And Andy (Vogel) is getting hot and freaky with Pepper (Leehrsen), a hitchhiker they picked up.  That's when they find another hitchhiker (Lauren German) wandering along the road.  After a few minutes of rambling, she blows her brains out.  Trying to get a hold of the cops, the group finds themselves facing a far more dangerous crisis: a chainsaw-wielding madman (Andrew Bryniarski).

As far as horror films go, it does a few things right.  There is a fairly consistent amount of tension, particularly in the second half, and even though Michael Bay is the king of PG-13, the movie doesn't skimp out on the gore (in fact, it overdoes it to the point where "vomitorium" is an apt descriptor).  It also does some things wrong, like a flat script, awkward editing and bad acting.

Acting is rarely a hallmark of the horror genre, and this film is no different.  Even established (Biel, Ermey, Tucker) and underrated actors (Vogel, Dorfman, Kathy Lamkin) are flat.  None of the unknowns should expect to get a call from Martin Scorcese anytime soon either based off their work here.  The heroes are here to look hot and fill body bags while everyone else is on hand to look ugly and scary.

This isn't a good movie, but at least it's watchable.

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