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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) remake review

Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: better than usual acting for a horror movie, intense chase sequences, lots of blood and gore, atmospheric cinematography

The Bad: too much blood and gore, bland story, few genuinely scary scenes for a horror movie

Current Availability Status: banned in Singapore

Ah! the vast Texas countryside. Rolling plains, long stretches of road, quaint little towns. It is 1973 and what could be more fun than going on a road trip with a bunch of friends to catch the biggest Lynard Skynard concert of the decade? Nothing could go wrong. Well for Erin, Kamper, Morgan, Andy and Pepper, every "wrong" starts to happen when they come across a blood drenched and obviously traumatised young girl. Being good hearted teens, they try to seek help first from the local sherrif. However, the unreasonable sherrif suspects the teens of foul play forcing them to turn to some residents of an old house for help. But those Texas residents have a gruesome little secret hidden in their cellar, and it carries a Chainsaw. Naturally, "massacre" will follow.

Produced by Michael Bay, this remake revolves around a retelling of "actual" events involving a group of teenagers and their tragic run-in with the deranged Texan family of killers and the murderous Leatherface. In true slasher movie fashion, the characters are just there to look pretty until they get offed one by one in the most gruesome ways. The acting is actually praise-worthy, better than the usual horror film, but it suffered from an uninspired script and flat story.

As a stand alone horror movie, this Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake is actually more horrific than horror. Where the original show banked on the tension and scared by teasing one's inherant primal fears, the remake does not scare by actually scaring but by making the audience cringe in terror thanks to gratuitous amounts of gore and prolonged scenes of suffering before the eventual death Many times, the film leaves the genre of horror and falls into more a "torture porn"-like genre.

If there was anything scary about the film, it was not the Leather-face killer. Rather, it was the overall sense of helplessness felt by the main characters. As the movie goes along, the characters try to turn to other townsfolk for help. But they soon realize that the townsfolk, and even the sheriff, are not only unwilling to help, but have a much darker agenda planned.

Flipping through Marcus Nispel's short resume of films(he directed the Friday the 13th remake and Pathfinder) and Platinum dune's list of horror remakes would pretty much tell you what to expect; a tendency to focus mostly on gory killings. Nispel himself seems more capable of directing a frenzied chase scene or a bloody body carving as opposed to anything remotely scary. At least the film looks great with a stylishly worn yellowish tinge to every scene that complements the "1970s" setting.

Despite its shortcomings, the film was rather popular at the box office. Perhaps action is indeed more successful at netting a wider audience than actual horror. And like many action movies, Texas Chainsaw Massacre exists solely for that unauthodox sense of escapism. Showing it to your more chicken-hearted friends and watching them gross out is also a good way to use this movie. It is a cringe worthy thrill ride of a splatter-fest with better than usual acting. Not the best of horror movie remakes, but not the worst either.

*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you desire a more faster moving, more savage version of the 1978 classic
Avoid it: if you were happy with the tension and fear of the original classic

Entertainment: A-
Story: B-
Acting: B
Characters: C+
Replay value: B+
"Brains": D

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