The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s power stems from its verisimilitude, how it feels like a gritty documentary. The remake largely abandons any attempt at this and makes a host of baffling choices:
- The film seems compelled to make its leads as unlikable as possible, setting them up as crass, unsympathetic drug traffickers – except, of course, for Jessica Biel’s wholesome Final Girl.
- Embracing a host of horror movie clichés – the decrepit gas station, the cars that just won’t start, and the villainous family that seems bizarrely modelled on The Hills Have Eyes’ family, even down to the sympathetic youngster and stolen baby.
- The setting is less creepy and more “completely implausible,” with the area apparently densely populated with people who are all, naturally, tied to Leatherface somehow. In the original, the night felt dense and all-encompassing; here it’s a Hollywood darkness, inexplicably well lit.
Is there anything to recommend it? A couple scenes manage to be authentically chilling and the moment of Leatherface wearing a victim’s face over his own is effectively shocking and silly simultaneously. It’s not altogether unpleasant to watch Jessica Biel running around in a tank top that, somehow, always remains knotted at the waist.