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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Review (2003) 31 Days of Horror #8

Premise:  Stupid kids, make stupid decisions that lead to a run-in with a chainsaw, literally.

Review:  I have seen many films in my lifetime.  Quite frankly, I have seen many films this month.  I do not claim to be a film expert.  I cannot quote films line for line - most films I cannot even remember the characters' names are without repeat viewings.  What I can do is tell you what I like and why.  I took some heat for including the remake of this film in my FS31DoH instead of the original.  When I sat down to watch it I feared that maybe I was wrong, perhaps this film had nothing to offer and the original was the only way to go.  Problem is, I am not very familiar with the original.  Some of you will see this as a sign of sacrilege, but I have only seen the original once, as a teenager, on an old 13 TV set.  For that I am happy, because it leaves me unaffected and able to have a more objective view than I was able to with other films that have gone through the remake process.

After sitting down and watching the 2003 version again, I stand behind my choice - it is a good horror film and one of the better remakes out there.   What you get here is a solid B-style-film in a shiny new package.  It is the shiny new package takes away from the film.  Things are over-produced, planned to the point of coming across as just that.  The original felt raw, as if it were the filming of actual events.  Here they attempt to create the feel of a found footage mixed with a standard horror film with one glaring issue, your star - Jessica Biel.  How is anyone supposed to get wrapped up in the movie when the filmmakers are glorifying the starlet with perfect lighting and camera angles.  It really becomes laughable at times.  The camera angles were not there to tell the story,  just to highlight Biel's body of work.  If she walks past the camera one of her most marketable assets are displayed prominently.  Funny thing, the same camera angles were not used for any of the other performers.  They should have just called it Biel-Cam.  As a man, I don't have a single problem with this.   As a film reviewer I don't have a... I mean, this just does not work.   A better decision for this, and all horror films, would have been to go with unknown faces.

Besides the casting of and how they chose to film the star, the filmmakers spent too much time making the film as gross as possible while losing focus on things like reality and lighting continuity.  The film is so grungy, it is almost as if we shot on another planet.  Every possible surface is dirty, greasy, muck-filled and slimy.  I have witnessed some disgusting things on "Hoarders," but this is is just ridiculous.  Not only is every surface so disgusting that even the least germaphobic person would be hunting for the closest bottle of Purell, but at one point an actor purposely dips his fingers in to investigate the pink slime in a bowl he is passing as if it were a pot of his Grandma's spaghetti sauce.  Who does that?  Another person chooses to open and investigate the inside of a fridge IN A POORLY LIT ROOM FULL OF BODY PARTS AND SHARP OBJECTS.  What was he expecting to find, a delicious looking sandwich he could bite into before anyone notices?  There are numerous elements that just don't make sense.  Then there is the lighting, from day to night, night to day, foggy to clear.  Sure looks cool--- makes no sense.

Then again, this is a horror film.  We did not come for a lesson in common sense, we came to be scared and this film does a good job delivering some scare.  The setup to most horror films put a bunch of dumb people into incredibly, uncomfortable experiences in isolated or unfamiliar surroundings.  Nothing new here, after making the standard poor choices of picking up a disoriented, bloody hitchhiker while hunting for drugs the crew encounters a psycho cop, a oddball family and of course a beast of a man wearing a mask made of human leather and yielding a chainsaw while yielding a chainsaw.  Although none of the group is all that likable you should be rooting for the as they are picked off one at a time - the scenes are intense and decision making of the characters is excruciating (in a good way.)  Many of the horror cliches are here and turned into a fairly satisfying, uncomfortable 90 minutes.  If you are looking for a tribute to the original film you MAY be disappointed.  If you just want to see a entertaining film from this genre, you could do much, much worse.  You will never be bored and always anticipating the next roar of the chainsaw.

For the naysayers, I will be watching the original 1976 version during next year's 31DoH... it better be THAT good.

SCARINESS                  3.0 out of 5  Would have been more effective if they cast unknowns, otherwise you have to wonder how the hell all this happened to Jessica Biel and no one had ever known. 

GORE/VIOLENCE       4.5 out of 5   Some pretty disgusting imagery - body parts, chainsawed torsos, Harry Knowles.

STORY                           2.0 out of 5   Standard sex and drugs lead to death and death storyline.

Overall Rating (as a film, not just as a horror film):  6.5 out of 10

Check out the rest of the reviews for FilmSnork's 31 Days of Horror here.

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