The Texas Chainsaw  Massacre

Directed By: Marcus Nispel

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

In the history of slasher movies, there are only a handful of iconic murderers — Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, and Leatherface.  Each has left their own indelible scar on the genre and a bloody trail of victims on the big screen.  I have love for each of them, but Leatherfsce stands out as one of the most talented slashers in my opinion.  He's not undead.  He can't kill people in their dreams.  He can't absorb unbelievable amounts of pain.  He's just a determined killer who's mastered the art of sprinting with a chainsaw.  His 2003 flick The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably his best to date.

On August 8, 1973, five teenagers are making their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert.  Having made their way across the border into Mexico to pick up some drugs, Erin (Jessica Biel), Kemper (Eric Balfour), Morgan (Jonathan Tucker), Andy (Mike Vogel), and Pepper (Erica Leerhsen) are now driving through the Lone Star state Texas.  When they pick up a stranded hitchhiker (Lauren German), they get more than they anticipated.  As they drive down the road, the girl frantically informs them that they're going the wrong way to no avail.  In a fit of rage, she pulls out a pistol, puts it in her mouth, and pulls the trigger.

In light of the hitchhiker's horrific suicide, these five teens pull over at a gas station looking for the police.  After a verbal altercation with an old lady working at the station (Marietta Marich), the lady informs them that the sheriff (R. Lee Ermey) is at the old mill.  When they make their way to the mill, they don't find the sheriff.  They find a boy by the name of Jebediah (David Dorfman) who informs them that the sheriff is at home having a few beers.  Ready to decorate the back of their van with something other than a bloody cadaver, the teens go to the sheriff's home to report the hitchhiker's suicide.  Instead of the sheriff, they find a deranged murderer by the name of Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a slasher flick in the truest sense.  It's got plenty of thrills, kills, and bloody chills.  Leatherface is an iconic slasher and once again rises to the occasion in this 2003 remake.  I have to give credit to director Marcus Nispel for creating a hellish atmosphere throughout the film.  Nispel also builds a decent amount of terror throughout the movie.  While The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is an above average slasher flick, it's still weighed down by the trademark flaws of the genre — poor acting and a formulaic script.

The Hewitt house and the surrounding town look like hell on earth thanks to Nispel.  It's dingy.  It's dark.  It's dilapidated.  With dark, grainy cinematography and some decent set design, Nispel turns the Hewitt plantation into one creepy place.  With all the tools for butchering humans there, the basement is especially ghastly.  Nispel then fills this spooky world with one menacing killer in Leatherface.  His crew has done an incredible makeup job in bringing this legendary killer back to the big screen, especially considering he's sporting the faces of his victims as masks.  Regardless of whose face he's wearing, Leatherface is one terrifying killer.  That being said, the way Nispel tends to build terror throughout the film is with Leatherface's chainsaw.  When the Hewitt's "special boy" revs up that chainsaw, we hear the true sound of terror.

While I definitely enjoyed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the movie is brought down by some mediocre acting and a script that adheres to the slasher playbook in every way.  For 7th Heaven actress Jessica Biel, this film marks her first time as the lead actress in a feature film.  Biel certainly does not knock it out of the park her first time up at bat.  Her co-stars don't either.  Their performances aren't terribly believable.  Beyond the acting, the script does nothing to push the boundaries of slasher flicks.  Horny teens with drugs go against warnings and go somewhere to which they're not supposed to go.  They get killed in a sick, sadistic way.  The end.  I just wish the film did something more in terms of the storyline.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a fun horror film.  It follows the horror playbook well but does nothing more.  While it's certainly a fear-filled horror movie, it could have been better.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few rounds of beer with this one.