Five teenagers hit the road to Texas, armed with tickets for a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Before long, the soundtrack strains of 'Sweet Home Alabama' are replaced by the menacing melody of a chainsaw powering up: ready, willing and able to decimate the ranks of your average teens-in-peril.
Welcome to an ill-advised respray of Tobe Hooper's 70s classic, helmed by one Marcus Nispel whose previous claims to fame include Wet Wet Wet video shoots. While the presence of Hooper's name amongst the credits may inspire optimism, it soon turns out to be entirely misplaced and stays that way for the lions share of the running time. Sadly, the only scenes that do hit the spot are few and far between: a hitchhiker whose brief appearance generates real tension, bowing out with that old 'I can see daylight' shot, and a genuinely startling moment where Leatherface adopts the features of a recently departed friend. The rest is a tedious mess, and even the staging of a few familiar scenes from the original can hardly be said to represent an improvement.
Bryiarsky's Leatherface (caught sewing at one stage) never gets close to the full-on terror created by Gunnar Hansen; indeed, R. Lee Ermey's sadistic sheriff is by far the most menacing figure on view, though it's little more than a reprise of his character from Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Our teen quintet don't fare any better either, though Biel does demonstrate the Hardesty's are still proficient screamers and also stakes her claim for the Texas Miss Wet T-Shirt contest. The rest of the 'young ones' are largely ineffective; Leerhsen appears to have some idea of where the show should be heading - a former 'Blair Babe' from one of the few sound-alikes that is fit to wear the shirt - but it's nowhere near enough on this occasion.
For the most part, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is old, borrowed and blue, with riffs from olders and betters - including Psycho and Blair Witch - together with nods to a few recent horror hits that inhabit the same dreary territory: if you have to resort to raiding the Jeepers Creepers larder, then boy, are you in trouble! Those in search of blood 'n' guts may find solace in the 'meat hook' escapades, though one would have to be pretty desperate to take seriously a scene that begins with a would-be crucifixion and ends with a prayer for forgiveness!
Just file this away with the dreadful Ring remake, and brace yourself for the next instalment of 'Money For Old Rope'. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ring 2 and Dawn of the Dead. If this is the state of the not-so modern horror movie, would the last person to leave the morgue please turn the lights off.