The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

As much as I don’t like the Platinum Dunes era of remakes, I can admit that Marcus Nispel* is a good director and that it was cool that Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel served as co-producers, Daniel Pearl returned to be the cinematographer and John Larroquette reprised narration duties.

A big difference is that the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre only hints at the gore that the Sawyer family metes out. Here. bodies are slashed in half, people live agonizing moments after being impaled on hooks, faces get torn off and even Leatherface loses an arm.

August 18, 1973. Erin (Jessica Biel), Kemper (Eric Balfour) Morgan (Jonathan Tucker), Andy (Mike Vogel) and Pepper (Erica Leerhsen) have just bought two pounds of weed in Mexico and are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert when they make the same mistake as another set of teens by picking up a hitchhiker. However, this one is in shock and eventually pulls a gun from between her legs and blows her brains out.

That’s when this movie hit me in the face, as it slow motion had smoke coming from her mouth and pushed the camera out of the bloody hole in the back of their car. That blood, that broken glass, that death — they are no longer in our world of reality but trapped in the deepest, darkest and deadliest place in America.

Welcome to Texas.

Instead of giving us killers to identify with — or sympathize with, as other films in this series seem to do — Leatherface and the Sawyer clan are brutal and uncompromising killers who take what they want and operate with ruthless efficiency.

Meanwhile, this film looks absolutely stunning, with sweeping camera moves and probably the best use of that 2000s gunmetal blue color palette I’ve seen. Other movies try and fail at what this film does so well.

Plus, R. Lee Ermey seems to be having a blast here.

Here’s to growing up and giving movies more of a chance than casually dismissing them.

*To the director’s credit, he was against the idea of remaking the film and said that it was blasphemy to his longtime director of photography, Daniel Pearl. Pearl, however, had shot the original movie and wanted Nispel to direct the film so that he could start and end his career with the same movie. He also realized that if just copied the original movie shot-for-shot, there was no reason to make this movie. So he shot it like a traditional movie and not a documentary.

How weird is it that Pearl shot Chainsaw and Lionel Richie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “Butterfly” for Mariah Carey?

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