The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 Movie Scene Jessica Biel as Erin during the final fight with Leatherface

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2003]

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the year of our lord Cthulhu 2003 and pirated DivX movies were all the rage. My friend told me that he’s got this new horror movie but he hasn’t seen it yet. The poster was blurry and quite ominous and the title was barely readable. Still, I could make out the word chainsaw realizing that this is a remake of the seventies classic. Seventies classic which I haven’t seen yet at that point in time. I got home, copied the CD to my hard drive and a couple of hours later played the movie. For the next ninety minutes, I was entirely spellbound. Each scene was better than the last and I simply couldn’t believe my eyes. I was finally watching a modern horror movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 is a masterpiece of terror, a rare example of a superior remake, and a great all-around horror movie. It’s nasty, intense, and highly atmospheric. The pacing is absolutely brutal and shit hits the fan pretty much instantly. From that moment on, we’ll be trapped in this nightmarish little village in the middle of nowhere. A village where everything is filthy, damp, and wicked. There will be no help coming in this vile dimension. You should know that many crew members of the original 1974 movie also worked on this movie. Actually, Daniel Pearl, the original cinematographer convinced Marcus Nispel, with whom he worked on music videos, to direct the remake.

Just one year earlier, another music video director made his debut movie. Jonas Åkerlund’s Spun is a gripping drug-fueled oddity still worth watching some twenty years later. And I don’t need to tell you that the movie we’re talking about today falls into that category. I absolutely loved the cinematography here and Pearl is a fucking master of his craft. Tobe Hooper and writer Kim Henkel served as co-producers ensuring the quality of the end product. As you can notice, I’m getting a little carried away here. Mostly because I watched this movie last night after more than ten years and it fucking blew me away again. So, let’s do this properly.

You don’t need to watch the original movie in order to enjoy The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 edition. The story follows four teenagers coming back from a vacation in Mexico. On their way home, they notice a young hitchhiker and decide to give her a ride. The only problem is that they don’t know exactly where they are. However, that’s soon going to be the least of their problems as, in just a couple of minutes, all hell is going to break loose. That’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot. Grimy, ominous, and sweaty, this is a movie that’s going to suck you into the screen instantly. To say that it’s immersive is an understatement.

The intense atmosphere in combination with fast pacing and brutal visuals creates this uncomfortable yet oddly captivating feeling. A feeling like you’re on a mission you don’t even realize you’re on. And you must complete it. I know that horror purists don’t like remakes and I was sadly one of them. I wanted to be edgy and cool after I really got into the genre so these new gimmicks were boring. They lacked the edge of the originals, I thought. Of course, I was dead wrong, and I can see it now, some twenty years later. Don’t make the same mistake I did and give this movie a chance to blow you away. I also think that the big screen is going to make a difference. I remember watching it on a 19″ CRT monitor (4:3 aspect ratio) that seemed huge back then.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 belongs to the new wave of 2000s horror movies. It is probably the best remake of this period along with The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House on The Left. Even the somewhat cheesy House of Wax was quite watchable. However, the main attractions are the originals like Jeepers Creepers, Final Destination, Darkness Falls, Wrong Turn, and Ghost Ship. And I didn’t even mention other, more popular releases like Hostel or Saw. All of these movies feature a certain aesthetic and willingness to go the distance despite the mainstream tag. The actors took their roles seriously and gave excellent performances. And this is exactly what happened here.

Jessica Biel was fucking phenomenal as the Texas country girl willing to take Leatherface on. Wearing a cowboy hat, tank top, jeans, and boots she looked like she could do it. Believe it or not, but Eric Balfour as her boyfriend Kemper stole the show for me. I wanted to look like him, to be him as he had this special 2000s charm. The rest of the cast was just as good with R. Lee Ermey standing head and shoulders above them, in a totally different class. After all, he was the only real adult here. And his character of Sheriff Hoyt will be thoroughly explored in the prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. A movie I also highly recommend you check out. It actually highlights just how good of a movie this is as it sets up the story for that one.

Speaking of sequels, prequels, and the cast, young Miss Biel started a tank-top trend in this movie. In all three subsequent movies, all the leading girls were either wearing a tank top or an unbuttoned shirt, like in that semi-botched 2013 sequel starring Alexandra Daddario. We can see this aesthetic continuing in one of the more popular horror franchises in recent years, Ti West’s X, Pearl, and the upcoming MaXXXine. Moreover, the original movie features a group of young guys and girls driving a van to a secluded farm where they proceed to get killed one by one. Oh boy, that does sound a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

Director: Marcus Nispel

Writers: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper, Scott Kosar

Cast: Jessica Biel, Eric Balfour, Jonathan Tucker, Erica Leerhsen, Mike Vogel, R. Lee Ermey, Terrence Evans

Fun Facts: At one point, Dolph Lundgren was in the play to play Leatherface but he eventually dropped out. The same thing happened to Brett Wagner, who actually appears as Leatherface in the movie during his first kill. However, after suffering heat stroke he was replaced with Andrew Bryniarski.


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