As hard as this is to believe, the movie that single-handedly started the 2000s remake trend is now two decades old.
Released on October 17th 2003, many people greeted the idea of a remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with “why?” The original is still considered one of the most shocking and effective game-changers of all time, what could possibly need changed?
However, thankfully, we were wrong, and this remake went on to achieve the impossible; becoming a modern classic.
Keeping the basic structure of Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original, the remake retains the 1970s setting, as well as the basic storyline of a group of friends on a road trip. However, where the remake veers off course and very much becomes its own film is its portrayal of the psychotic family at the helm of the terror.
Whereas the 1974 film kept a level of mystery to the Sawyer clan right to the end, the 2003 remake becomes a surprisingly deep character study of an incredibly demented yet devoted extended family. Whilst 1974 only had 3 active members, here, they are everywhere and seemingly inescapable.
Helping with the expanded character count is a fantastic cast combining some of the hottest talent of the time with some of Hollywood’s greatest character actors. Of note is Jessica Biel as heroine Erin, who arguably outdoes original counterpart Marilyn Burns by being a great deal more resourceful. Similarly, all agreed R. Lee Ermey stole the show with his villainous turn as ringleader Sheriff Hoyt.
Whilst Leatherface is still there, and very much a threat, he is much less of a focus in the remake, as its deep dive into the world of twisted family dynamics is the focus.
Although audiences were sceptical going in, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre won them over, earning an impressive $107 million on a meagre budget of $9.7 million. No one knew it at the time, but this success would begin a wave of horror remakes over the next 10 years, many coming from Platinum Dunes, also responsible for this one.
However, many still agree that no remake of this period did it better that The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It paid just enough tribute to its classic original while also taking its own path. It is this diversion from the paint-by-numbers approach that allows this remake to continue to endure two decades later.