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The 1974 cult classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre squeezed genuine scares from a shoestring budget: Director Tobe Hooper molded the film’s poor production values into proto-Blair Witch cinéma vérité that paralyzed viewers with sudden Leatherface-borne jolts rather than blood and guts. The use of faux grainy crime-scene footage in this glossy remake’s prologue—as well as the return of the original film’s narrator, John Larroquette—shows that this new Chainsaw knows whence it came. But the film’s opening scene reveals that the original’s suggestiveness has been thrown over in favor of simple, showy bloodlust. As five youngsters, including Erin (Jessica Biel) and Kemper (Eric Balfour), make their way through a very dusty part of Texas on their way to a Skynyrd concert, their van very nearly plows into a dazed hitchhiker. When they pick the hitcher up, she mutters, “They’re all dead,” then sticks a gun in her mouth and blows her brains out. The camera pans back from the shocked passengers, then through the hole in her head to the brain-splattered back window. The gratuitously explicit gore gets even more gothic once the kids reach the Leatherface compound: Director Marcus Nispel stocks the house’s central-casting torture floor (doll heads, fetus jars, severed ears, and flies, flies, flies) with an ample supply of meat hooks, and he and Leatherface (Andrew Bryniarski) aren’t afraid to use them. To his credit, though, commercial and music-video vet Nispel injects some of Hooper’s Deliverance-era lunacy into his mise-en-scène—a shot of Leatherface sweetly stringing faces together on an old flywheel sewing machine is a particular highlight. And his cackling, inbred extended family of sharp-toothed kids and sallow-faced matrons is authentically disconcerting, with the inveterate drill-sergeant character actor R. Lee Ermey particularly well typecast as the drill-sergeant-style Sheriff Hoyt. Scenes featuring the intimidating sheriff and the ever-pursuing Leatherface are far more viscerally chilling than the stomach-churning torture segments: When the flesh-masked baddie, who skulks around in the shadows for the first half of the film, finally gets his motor running, it’s worth the wait. In the end, there’s just enough nostalgic kitsch and gore-free fright to keep your interest from flagging. This Chainsaw proves that, for cannibalistic man-child and scare-hungry audience alike, a gas-guzzling whirring blade can be a just the ticket. —Josh Levin