Tue, Feb 20, 2018 07:27 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-10-22 life & times
New 'Chainsaw' film dim copy of original
Cletus Turner

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It isn't often that a remake is able to at least equal its predecessor. Such occasions are few and far between and are saved for films like The Nutty Professor.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is another attempt at a remake that the film company hopes will be as popular as its first incarnation. Unfortunately, this will not be the case, since the updated version is nowhere near as good as the original.

In the 1970s, TCM was release by Tobe Hooper and took the nation by storm. The film's writers started a myth about a fictional mass murderer who killed 33 people and wore their flesh as a mask. In that film, though, the kids were going to see if their grandfather's grave had been desecrated. In the update, they're going to see a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Both are scary in and of themselves, but the graveyard has to be the best. The gore of the 1970 version was nowhere near the 2003 version, so it worked a little more on the mind's eye level. That is really a very scary thought. My imagination can come up with far worse things than a director could ever dream up. Give me less gratuitous gore and more mind numbing/shattering horror. I know many people don't want to have to actual do something like think during a movie, but I like to have to think about what is going on.

Perhaps that is the biggest problem with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the film goes right into the violence. While all the violence is explained later on, by the time the explanation comes around, who cares?

The group, Andy, played by Mike Vogel; Kemper, played by Eric Balfour; Morgan, played by Jonathan Tucker; Erin played by Jessica Biel; and a hitchhiker, played by Erica Leerhsen are driving along and we find out they have been to Mexico to pick up some illegal contraband. Erin becomes angry at Kemper, her boyfriend, because no one told her the real reason for the trip to Mexico. She thought it was supposed to be fun and then go to the concert. They stop and pick up a girl who is drifting along the road, played by Lauren German. The girl is bloody and eventually pulls out and gun when the van isn't going in the direction she wants it to go. Instead of threatening the other kids, the girl sticks the gun in her mouth and pulls the trigger.

Kemper and gang head for the nearest sheriff's office. They are sent to an old mill and once there, Erin and Kemper go off to find the sheriff. What they do find is an old house. Erin goes in to use the phone while Kemper waits outside. Kemper sneaks is and is attacked and pulled behind a door. Erin, after talking with the sheriff on the phone, thinks Kemper has went back to the van. Once she gets back to the van, she discovers the sheriff has already been there and that there has been no sign of Kemper.

Andy and Erin go back to the house to find Kemper. While Erin distracts an old man, Andy sneaks into the house and is accosted by Leatherface, played by Andrew Bryniarski. Leatherface lets Erin get away, but captures Andy.

I will leave off at this point, because the rest of the movie is your typical slasher horror film.

I must say that the acting was actually not so bad. Typically, acting in a horror film is the worst ever, but Eric Balfour, who was on HBO's Six Feet Under, is a terrific performer. Jessica Biel could be the next breakthrough performer. She has the stuff to do much tougher material than this film. I predict great things for her as long as she doesn't allow herself to be typecast into this role over and over. Mike Vogel, who was in Grind, is another actor who wasn't too bad. Scary enough, he looks extraordinarily like my friend Chris. Comic relief for the film came from the sheriff, named Hoyt and played by R. Lee Ermey.

Although there weren't any "name" actors in the film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn't badly acted, it just falls to the old "cliche" horror film. We know, because the film focuses on the person, who will live and who will die. When you know the outcome, it takes the fun out of the movie. Instead of who will die, you wonder HOW they will die. If that is all the mystery of the film, you've already lost the battle. Most audiences tuned in to Jason vs. Freddie because of the history of those two characters. If this film does well at all, it will be because people want to compare the two films.

Overall, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a dim copy of the original. It has none of the mystery or mystique the first film enjoyed. While the acting isn't bad, even good actors cannot make up for a script that has no imagination and no originality.

2 suns

At the box office:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre took in almost $30 million it its first weekend. Runaway Jury didn't even get second place. It came in at number three behind Kill Bill. Both films brought in 12 million in their first weekend.

The best new movie in the coming weekend will have to be Scary Movie 3. Kevin Smith of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back penned the film, taking over from the Wayans brothers who starred in and penned the first two films. Such films as The Matrix and The Ring are spoofed.

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