The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake took every genre standard that was firmly established in the 1980s (horny teens, virginal final girls, stoner road trips gone terribly wrong, the implacable urbanite fear of rednecks) and mashed them together in a hyper-stylized MTV stew. Who can resist kids with amazing bodies covered in sweat and dirt wearing properly fitted denim? The director of photography from the original Texas Chainsaw, Daniel Pearl, is a master of smoked-out shafts of light streaming through redwoods and wide-angle lenses. Just because I’m a gay doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of appreciating a flawless tracking shot of Jessica Beil’s ass in lowrise jeans. Jessica has never looked better than in this film, she's toned but still soft and feminine and her raspy screaming throughout the third act rivals that of any scream queen prior.
It's easy to forget that movies didn't look like this before 2003 because the Texas Chainsaw model has become so firmly engrained in look of every other horror movie. I'm a sucker for gorgeous photography and this movie was remarkably shot. Excessive and broad as any Michael Bay film, there is something joyful about the world of this movie. It feels like summer, it feels like Texas, it feels dirty. All the characters in this movie have a backstory and are present for a reason - this cannot be said for any of the remakes that proceeded. Erica Leerhsen and Jonathan Tucker emote their asses off, I don’t think I've ever seen actors playing and maintaining pure terror to such indulgent extremities before or since.
"That's not your baby, you stole her!"
Did one slick, music video inspired remake merit an entire decade of boring, scene by scene, toneless retellings of stories that were just meant to be camp, amusement park ride to begin with? No, of course not!
Love it or loathe it, this movie worked. It cost very little; any and all money went to the camera department and, as a result, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake made a killing in the box office and garnered in an entire era of garbage. Gus Van Sant proved with Psycho (1998) that you couldn't simply recreate shots and scenes and expect to have the same end product. Movies have a life of their own. Unfortunately, no one saw Psycho (1998) and the result is the disappearance of original stories and good, old-fashioned horror fun. There are, however, a few exceptions...