So I’ll give the TCM remake this: It’s better than I remember it being.
But remakes are strange. More than any other film, when you’re faced with a remake, the question is always, “Why did you make this?” And the answer isn’t always a great one (because sometimes the answer is just, “We wanted to make a bunch of money.”)
The first half to two thirds of TCM 2003 works better than the later parts, partly because it’s in that first half that it sticks closest to the original, though to be fair, it’s still not that close. There’s a van full of five people who end up meeting their untimely ends in Texas, many of them at the hands of a chainsaw wielding maniac named Leatherface.
But where the original started laying on the dread from the word go, the remake takes its time (though I think they were trying to build some dread with the opening “found footage” of the police searching the Hewitt house.
Obviously there’s a desire to make the film slicker than the original, and I mean that partly in reference to the obviously increased budget, and also to the amount of blood and sweat and water dripping everywhere and weird shallow pools of it in the basement. Seriously, this is a very wet film, and the actors are all pretty slicked up from the start.
Unfortunately, the later half makes too big mistakes. First, it adds a completely unnecessary subplot involving a kidnapped baby. And second, it completely excised the dinner scene from the original. How do you make a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film without the dinner scene? That’s a horrifying oversight.
Fun fact, though: The cinematographer on this film was the same as on the original film.