In 1973, a group of Young, Beautiful People are on the way across Texas to a rock concert.They pick up a hitch-hiker: a terrified young woman who commits suicide when she thinks she isbeing driven back to the place she just fled. Seeking help in a nearby house, our heroesunfortunately come into contact with Leatherface and his clan, and the slaughter begins.
Though there are some variations, the plot, in is broad lines, is very close to the 1973original. And therein…lies one of the major problems: the storyline isn’t different enough to befresh and new, but the changes introduced are also ill-advised (why idiot thought it would be agood idea to give Leatherface an origin story, not to mention show what he looks like under themask?). As a straight-ahead horror film, the effort isn’t bad, but suffers from comparison to theoriginal, and achieves very little of that film’s harrowing intensity. For all that the filmmakerswanted to goose the audience into thinking this is all true, the often gorgeous cinematography (byoriginal DP Daniel Pearl) works against that illusion.
First-rate sound here (in DTS ES, 5.1 and 2.0), from the music on down. The placement ofthe sound effects is very good. For instance, as the van moves from bottom left to upper right ofthe screen, the sound moves from rear left to front right speakers. The environmental effects areexcellent, with bird and insect songs plunging us into the Texas heat. There is no distortion, andthe dialogue is clear.
The image is extremely sharp. Every pore, every bead of sweat, is visible on the actors’ faces,driving home the insufferable heat of the setting. There is no visible edge enhancement, and onlysome very minor grain in a couple of shots. The colours are very rich, and the film looks, by andlarge, beautiful. That said, the colours in some of the exteriors don’t seem to have quite the samerange as they did theatrically (though I freely admit my memory may be playing tricks onme.)
First, the packaging is nice, what with unfolding into the shape of a chainsaw blade, andaccompanied by black-and-white “evidence” photographs in a sealed envelope. The menu’s mainscreen, intro and transitions are animated and scored, and the second-level screens arescored.
— Disc 1 —
Three commentary tracks here, helpfully labelled as “production”, “technical” and “story” intheme. The various participants – director Marcus Nispel on all tracks, the cast on the third, crewon the second, and producers on the third – are recorded separately. The advantage of this is aminimum of silliness, but also a lack of dialogue between the players.
— Disc 2 —
Pretty thorough features here, divided up into categories. “The Production” features 7 deletedscenes, screen tests for the cast, two galleries featuring concept art for Leatherface and theproduction design, and “Cainsaw Redux: Making a Massacre.” This last is a 75-minutedocumentary, featuring interviews with cast and crew. To its credit, the doc does deal with theinitial fan hostility toward the idea of a remake, but the ending, with snippets of post-previewaudience reaction, is pure promotional fluff. Interesting and informative, then, but still to betaken with much salt.
Better is “Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield,” a half-hour-long look at the man whose crimesinspired the movie (and the original, of course, plus Psycho and Deranged, toname but a few). Thinks of this as a particularly grisly episode of A&E Biography. The finalsection of extras is “Publicity and Promotion”: Michael Bay’s teaser, the theatrical trailer, TVspots, Motograter’s “Suffocate” video, and trailers for Highwaymen, Willard,The Butterfly Effect and Ripley’s Game. The DVD-ROM extras include script-to-screen features and a storyboard viewer.
Nice disc. Nice picture. Nice sound. Nice extras. Great-looking film. Just a little bitpointless, that’s all.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- “Chainsaw Redux: Making a Massacre” Documentary
- “Ed Gein: The Ghoul of Plainfield” Documentary
- Deleted Scenes
- Screen Testes
- Concept Art Galleries
- TV Spots
- Motograter “Suffocate” Video
- DVD-ROM Features
- Evidence Photos