Thomas Hewitt lies in the corner behind a wall as he hears his parents fighting once again, his father holds a young girl in his hands as he’s throwing her back in forth. She is in tears and pleading to go. Thomas hit’s his head over and over again in frustration as his mother screams out to him, “Thomas Hewitt get this girl out of my sight!” He obeys. This is something you would expect to see in a late night drama, except this drama is much more twisted. Thomas obeys only to throw the girl down a flight of steps. This isn’t a late drama, but instead the reimagining of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Thomas, is the name of the infamous Leatherface and his family is more the center of attention in this film. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes something well known to fans and makes it an archetype known to the general public. Dysfunctional families.
The story for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not a usual one. Somewhat based and inspired by the events involved with Ed Gein, the story plays out like the Blair Witch. Being told about actual events and then the film consisting of footage or reenactments. With that in mind the opening does grab attention and interest as an evidence footage file of a police officer investigating a crime scene is shown, we feel that it touches in too close to home. No jokes are made, only observations and it’s all very serious. The film continues with a reenactment that’s pacing is somewhat slow as casual conversations are shared, allowing us to distinguish personalities of the characters. Then everything is thrown off course as a psycho hitchhiker is picked up and the pacing speeds up from there. Crazy events and characters fill the screen as the five teens try to report a suicide to the sheriff. The only thing that moves the story along is the interactions, as if watching a mystery unfold. Situations are thrown into the loop of trouble and we watch as the teens attempt to solve them, only to have it be more puzzling then they or the audience think. This is the perfect setup for a strange solution, as we are introduced to the family. This is when the story gets confusing. The difference between good and evil is very thin with the family and inhabitants of the town, and since a lack of predictability is available it’s hard to follow what will come next. Only with close attention will the plot and characters be understood. The film somewhat stops short for a second, only to make up for it with narration, and builds up to an exciting climax that even beats out the original. So the story maintains a steady ride except for its bumpy opening, but remains to keep the audience on their toes by destroying all predictability. Rarely seen in today’s horror films.
In an interview with director Marcus Nispel, he said that when remaking the Chainsaw Massacre, he wanted to not focus on the gore as much, but more on the situation, the family and how sick that is. The family that Thomas lives in plays a very crucial part to the film and is one of the scariest elements in the film. The element that stood out was the acting and characters, funny in personality and reasonable; they do what most in a life situation would do. They run, seek help and do everything in their power to escape. It’s this realism that makes the situation even scarier, because with actual attempts, they still fail. Acted out to perfection with facial expressions of fear and terror, it’s almost as if the situation were really happening. That’s something to top in today’s films, since the characters seem to be in on the situation just as much as the audience. Though the element from the first film stood out in the remake. The teens are funny and somewhat reasonable in the relationship they have to each other, though when situations arise, they don’t realize all that’s happening, and everything they do is realistic. Yet they still fail. I think this made the film all the scarier, because they are smart. The main character Erin travels with another person and never does so alone, it’s safer that way. Though when one goes missing, she returns with another person, always keeping someone with her. Though that still fails. Scary that the buddy system doesn’t work. Another thing that stands out is the reaction to situations, one of the other main characters named Morgan, is being shouted at by a cop to recreate a crime scene, it’s to the point where he has a gun in his mouth and common sense says that something isn’t right, and he acts on that. So we don’t have to think for the characters since they think for themselves. This allows us to suspend disbelief, which is what allows the film to take a realistic tone.
To enforce the plot and characters, the other elements of the film must be just as great in order to get the seriousness of the film across. Music in the film was used as usual horror films have them, to express mood and incite excitement in scary points. The music did perfectly that, but was not used as a crutch like in most films. It was used to enforce the cinematography, where most of the mood and excitement came from. Daniel Pearl, the original cinematographer from the first TCM returned for this film and used the story and characters and surroundings like a painting. Texas Chainsaw Massacre being the title of the painting, the movie and images play out beautifully right before our eyes. Such attentions to detail, from dripping blood on the ceiling, to brown water in the bathtub, the sets are shown to their full potential. The woods with pieces of daylight shining through, to the van drenched with brain remnants. Pearl used everything in sight, panning through holes in the windows to even a corpses head. It made everything seem beautiful and more of a pre-industrialized area. Making the situations happening in the film differ, so your attention is fully devoted to both and towards the end of the film, the story and cinematography match, both being dark and dimly lit, it’s then that the film has us and doesn’t let us go till the end. Though still the images remain dark even to the credits to give no sign of hope of a happy ending. Both strong elements add to the film making the experience all the more memorable and don’t detract or disturb like other films.
Living up to the original, Marcus Nispel surpassed expectations and in a way created something he could call his own. Creating new origins while staying true to the story line, he thought outside of the box and created something just as beautiful and just as scary. Compared to other reimagining’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will stand out from the rest as one of the best composed. A real crowd pleaser.