If you are looking for a scary horror movie to watch on Halloween, you should definitely check our review of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 film.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
The 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre was directed by Marcus Nispel and lens by the same cinematographer, Daniel Pearl, who shot the original film.
It’s perhaps more known for being produced by Michael Bay, the first in a long line of horror remakes that he produced, including The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher (1986), Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
To me, this version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the best horror remake he produced by far. I actually think this is a pretty good movie, surprisingly, and I am a fan of the original. I didn’t used to be. I talked about that in my review for it.
The first time I saw the original, I didn’t get it. It just wasn’t for me at the time. I wasn’t ready for it. I thought it was going to be something else than it was, and I misunderstood that. Over the years, I’ve really come to love the original film.
I saw the remake much later. And of course, going into a remake of a movie like that, you’re kind of wired to just assume it’s going to be bad. Anytime a remake of anything that’s well known comes out, or even like another version of a source material you love, or films that have existed before that you love, and they’re doing another version of, you’re just wired to immediately assume that it’s going to be bad because most of the time it is.
And while this film opens in a similar way, you have some young kids in a van led by Jessica Biel, who is traveling across the country and are in Texas in the middle of nowhere, stumble across somebody on the road, just about everything after that is different enough.
In fact, there are completely new scenes and iconic sequences from the original aren’t really touched. There’s not an attempt to recreate the Horrifying dinner table scene.
The final sequence in the original film is changed enough, and there’s plenty of new characters and ideas and wholly new scenes.
The best thing that I can say about this movie is that they definitely did not just copy and paste the original film, and I respect that a lot. There are tons of new ideas here, and some of them are actually quite good.
For instance, R. Lee Ermey is the sheriff. He’s almost the primary villain, and Leatherface is more of a secondary villain who’s just in the shadows, this evil constant who’s going to jump out at you and saw your legs off at any given time. And they used Leatherface really well in this movie.
You can tell Marcus Nisfell really cares about the original film and maintaining its legacy, and everything I’ve read about him confirms that that’s true, because Leatherface is not treated as if he is some superhero or like a monster. He is very much shown to be what Leatherface is, which is a sad child in the body of a giant man.
You can tell they really cared about making the best remake they could, but also not really touching the original. Like the scene in the van where Arleigh Erme forces the kid to recreate the death of a girl previous in the movie by putting a gun in his mouth. This is a really tense and horrifying scene.
And it also maintains that kind of sickening, dirty quality that the original had, which is probably due to the cinematographer being the same person.
That being said, and I know this never would have happened because it’s a giant Michael Bay produced movie that was meant to be much more commercial than the original film was.
Even though this movie was shot in 35 millimeters. I do wish they had shot this on 16 millimeters like the original. I know that that’ll never happen because audiences around the world in 2003 would have been like, is there something wrong with the projector? Why does it look like that? I just think that the textured grit of 16 millimeters would have made this movie even better.
One thing about the film, though, that’s always bothered me a little bit, and this comes into the more commercial, big production element of it, is that the lighting at night can be somewhat inconsistent and rather impossible.
There’s a sequence where Jessica Biel is bunkered down in this old rundown building and there’s just this massive amount of moonlight coming in that just doesn’t look realistic.
More than likely, in a scenario like this, this girl would be in a completely shadowed space with nothing but black all over the screen and very little light coming in. And that’s the most realistic idea in some old rundown building in the middle of rural Texas.
Again, though, all the people who want to come to the theater with popcorn are going to want to see Jessica Biel and not see some darkness and maybe Jessica Biel.
It’s a tough line to walk for a DP. You have to judge just how much of realism you can push for audience suspension of disbelief, but also, hopefully, you can see everything that’s happening. And I think they just went a little too far in some scenes here.
The final 20 minutes of the movie I find excruciatingly tense. It’s a very fun chase sequence. I’m going to talk about a few things at the ending of the movie, So spoilers if you’ve never seen it. That’s your warning.
They definitely give the audience a more satisfying thing that occurs when she gets to run over the sheriff and then back up and run over him again. And then run over him again.
That’s the kind of thing you didn’t get in the first film. She just escapes, gets in that fucking truck, and you’re happy that she escaped. But she never really got back at anybody.
This film being a little more commercial and aimed at a broader audience. They gave you that moment where she gets to do something with the car and one last little scare with leather face and honestly, I’m fine with it.
I love that this movie is so different from the original while also tributing it in a lot of ways and paying homage to so many things about it. You can tell that it was made by somebody who really loves that original film and has a lot of respect for it.
And it’s written in such a way where they’re able to take pieces of the original and just go from there and do a bunch of new scenes.
That’s not something that remakes do a lot. Sometimes they just try to be a copy and paste movie and this film didn’t.
There was even another Texas Chainsaw remake last year from Netflix. This one from 2003 is definitely better. Check it out this Halloween.
Guys, thank you so much for reading The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) review see you next time.