The film is the first of many horror remakes to come from Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company which also released the remakes The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The film was released in the United States on October 17, 2003. It grossed $107 million against a $9 million budget. It has a 36% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which called it "an unnecessary remake". A prequel was released in 2006, titled The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
On August 18, 1973, five young adults—Erin, her boyfriend Kemper, and their friends Morgan, Andy, and Pepper—are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert after traveling to Mexico to buy marijuana. While driving through Texas, the group pick up a distraught hitchhiker walking in the middle of the road. After trying to talk to the hitchhiker, who speaks incoherently about "a bad man", she shoots herself in the mouth.
The group goes to contact the police, when a woman named Luda Mae tells them to meet Sheriff Hoyt at the mill. Instead, they find a young boy named Jedidiah, who tells them Hoyt is at home. Erin and Kemper go through the woods to find his house, leaving Morgan, Andy, and Pepper at the mill with Jedidiah. They come across a plantation house and Erin is allowed inside by an amputee named Monty to call for help. Kemper goes inside to look for Erin and is killed with a sledgehammer by Thomas Hewitt, also known as "Leatherface", who drags his body into the basement and finds an engagement ring meant for Erin.
Meanwhile, Hoyt arrives and disposes of the hitchhiker's body. After Erin finds that Kemper is missing, she and Andy go back to Monty's house, and Erin distracts him while Andy searches for Kemper. Monty realizes Andy is inside and summons Leatherface, who attacks him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes and heads towards the woods, but Leatherface cuts Andy's leg off and carries him to the basement, where he is impaled on a meat hook. Erin makes it back to the mill, but before she and the others can leave, Hoyt shows up. After finding marijuana on the dashboard, he orders Erin and Pepper to get out of the van, gives Morgan the gun he took from the hitchhiker, and tells him to reenact how she killed herself. Morgan, disturbed by his demands, attempts to shoot him, only to find that the gun is unloaded. Hoyt handcuffs Morgan and drives him to the Hewitt house, taking the van's key with him.
Erin and Pepper are attacked by Leatherface, who is wearing Kemper's face as a mask. When Pepper attempts to run, she is killed by Leatherface. Erin runs and hides in a nearby trailer belonging to an obese middle-aged woman known only as the Tea Lady, and a younger woman named Henrietta, who give her tea. Erin discovers they have kidnapped the hitchhiker's baby, but passes out before she can escape, as the tea is drugged. Erin wakes up at the Hewitt house surrounded by the family: Leatherface, his mother Luda Mae, Hoyt, Monty and Jedidiah. Luda Mae informs Erin that Leatherface was tormented for his whole life because of a skin disease that left his face disfigured, and that she felt no one cared for her family besides themselves.
Erin is taken to the basement, where she finds Andy and kills him to end his suffering after failing to get him off the hook. Afterwards, she finds Morgan handcuffed in a bathtub. Jedidiah, who does not agree with his family's actions, leads them out of the house and distracts Leatherface long enough for them to escape. Erin and Morgan find an abandoned shack in the woods and barricade themselves inside. Leatherface breaks in and discovers Erin, but Morgan attacks Leatherface, who kills him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes into the woods, pursued by Leatherface. She finds a slaughterhouse and attacks Leatherface with a meat cleaver, chopping off his right arm.
Erin runs outside and flags down a trucker, who she tries to convince to drive away from the Hewitt house, but he stops to find help at the eatery. As the family is distracted by the trucker, Erin sneaks the baby out of the eatery and places her in the sheriff's car. Erin hot-wires the car and Hoyt tries to stop her, but she runs him over repeatedly until he is dead. Then, Leatherface suddenly appears in the road and slashes the car with his chainsaw, but Erin manages to escape with the baby, and he watches in anger as she drives away.
On December 5, 2001, Creature Corner.com reported that Michael Bay's newly created company Platinum Dunes (which was created in order to produce low budget films), had set its focus on remaking The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Early announcements on the site indicated that the story would be told in flashback with actress Marilyn Burns who starred in the original film would reprise her role as an aged Sally Hardesty recounting the events in the film. It was later announced that the filmmakers had already purchased the rights to the original film. Early in the film's production the original films makers Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel would be writing a script for the film, but it was unknown at the time whether or not that their script would be used. In June 2002, it was announced that Marcus Nispel would direct the film in his directorial debut. Nispel said that he was initially against the idea of remaking the film, calling it "blasphemy" to his longtime director of photography, Daniel Pearl, who had shot the original film. Pearl, however, encouraged Nispel to join the project, as he wanted to bookend his career with Chainsaw films.
It was later announced that Scott Kosar signed on as the film's screenwriter. As in the original 1974 version, it is loosely inspired by the real life crimes of Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. Gein's crimes had also inspired books such as Psycho and Silence of the Lambs, both of which were later adapted into subsequent films.
The screenplay was written by Scott Kosar, who went on to write the screenplays for The Machinist and Platinum Dunes remake of The Amityville Horror. The film was Kosar's first professional job as a screenwriter, with the writer later recalled feeling both thrilled and honored at the prospect of writing the screenplay for the remake. Kosar also realized early on that he was dealing with "one of the seminal works of the genre" and one that could not be bettered. When discussing with the film's producers, Kosar felt that the new film shouldn't try to compete with the original film, as he felt that it was made under different circumstances. In earlier drafts Erin, the film's main character, was revealed to be nine months pregnant throughout the film but was removed from later drafts at producer Michael Bay's insistence.
Jessica Biel, who previously starred in the television series 7th Heaven, was revealed to cast as the main character Erin.
Actor Andrew Bryniarski, who starred in Bay's Pearl Harbor and stayed friends with him afterwards, personally met with producer Bay and asked him for the role of Leatherface. Another actor was cast for the role before Bryniarski, but, on the first day, the actor was hospitalized and fired for lying about his physical abilities. Without an actor for the film's main antagonist, the filmmakers called and asked if Bryniarski still wanted the role, which he accepted. To prepare for the role, Bryniarski ate a diet of brisket and white bread in order to get his weight to nearly 300 pounds. Bryniarski would later reprise his role as Leatherface in the film's prequel.
Nispel favored shooting the film in California, but Nispel suggested Texas, where he had previously shot three films. Principal photography began in Austin in July 2002 and lasted 40 days. The original film was shot in a style more reminiscent of a documentary. Nispel intentionally shot in a different style, using more traditionally narrative elements, as he did not want to make a shot-for-shot remake, as in Gus van Sant's Psycho remake. The remake includes references to the previous film, including John Larroquette, who returns in his role as the film's narrator.
The weather during filming was very hot and humid. Bryniarski, who portrays Leatherface in the film, did all his own stunts and was forced to wear a "fat suit", which increased his near-300 lbs to 420 lbs. The suit also heated up quickly so that the actor had to ensure that he drank a lot of fluids before a shoot. Leatherface's mask was also a problem; the mask was made out of Silicone and was difficult for the actor to breathe through. The crew had many prop chainsaws for actor Bryniarski to use, such as chainsaws that put out smoke, and live chainsaws.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows an approval rating of 36% based on 155 reviews; the average rating is 4.8/10. The consensus is: "An unnecessary remake that's more gory and less scary than the original." Metacritic, another review aggregator, calculates an average of 38%, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Roger Ebert gave the film a rare 0 stars out of 4, calling it "A contemptible film: Vile, ugly and brutal. There is not a shred of reason to see it. Those who defend it will have to dance through mental hoops of their own devising, defining its meanness and despair as 'style' or 'vision' or 'a commentary on our world'." Variety gave the film a negative review, calling the film "initially promising, but quickly disappointing retread of a hugely influential horror classic". Peter Travers from Rolling Stone panned the film, awarding it 2/4 stars, stating, "Director Marcus Nispel, acclaimed for his ads and music videos, has a sharp eye and the good sense to hire Daniel Pearl, who shot the first Chainsaw. But all the bad-rehash mojo from Friday the 13th to The Blair Witch Project has infected Scott Kosar's script. Hooper went for primitive, Nispel goes for slick. Hooper went easy on the gore, Nispel pours it on" and called the film "soulless". Dave Kehr from The New York Times gave the film a negative review, stating, "Rather than exhilaration, this bilious film offers only entrapment and despair" further commenting that the film was about as much fun as sitting in on an autopsy. Leonard Maltin awarded the film 1.5 out of 4, complimenting the film's intensity but criticized the lack of likable characters and the lack of humor which was present in the original, stating, "Once it kicks into gear, it's brutally unrelenting toward its unappealing characters and the audience."
Robert K. Elder of the Chicago Tribune rated it 3/4 stars and called it "an effectively scary slasher film" despite its absurd premise. Total Film rated it 3/5 stars and compared it favorably to Cabin Fever, which they said was not as suspenseful as Chainsaw. William Thomas of Empire rated it 3/5 stars and wrote, "You'll have to overcome resentment towards this unnecessary remake before you can be properly terrorised but, on its own terms, it plays well."
The film earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Remake or Sequel, but lost the award to Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in North America on October 17, 2003, in 3,018 theaters. It grossed $10,620,000 on its opening day and concluded its North America opening weekend with $28,094,014, ranking No. 1 at the box office. The film opened in various other countries and grossed $26,500,000, while the North American gross stands at $80,571,655, bringing the worldwide gross to $107,071,655. The film's budget was $9.5 million.
The film was released on VHS and DVD March 30, 2004, through New Line Home Entertainment. Special features include seven TV spots, an soundtrack promo and trailers and a music video for Suffocate by Motograter. A two-disc Platinum Series Edition was also released that same day, containing a collectible metal plaque cover, three filmmaker commentaries with producer Michael Bay, director Marcus Nispel and others, crime city photo cards, deleted scenes, an alternate opening and ending, Chainsaw Redux: In-Depth documentary, Gein: The Ghoul of Planifield documentary, cast screen tests, art gallery, seven TV spots and trailers, heavy metal song Suffocate by "Motorgrater" Music Video, an soundtrack promo and DVD-ROM content, including script-to-screen
A UMD version of the film was released on October 4, 2005, and on Blu-ray on September 29, 2009.
Stephen Hand wrote a novelization that was published March 1, 2004 by Black Flame. Hand previously wrote the novelization for Freddy vs. Jason, also for New Line and Black Flame.
There were two soundtrack albums released by Bulletproof Records/La-La Land Records for the film; the first was meant for regular audiences featuring popular metal music and was released on November 4, 2003.
The second was the film's original score as composed by Steve Jablonsky. This was released on October 21, 2003 and has a run time of 50:25.
Trailers and TV spots used a version of This Mortal Coil's cover of "Song to the Siren", which was just recorded for the trailer and was sung by the singer Renee of the band Moneypenny.
- "Immortally Insane" by Pantera
- "Below the Bottom" by Hatebreed
- "Pride" by SOiL
- "Deliver Me" by Static-X
- "43" by Mushroomhead
- "Pig" by Seether
- "Down in Flames" by Nothingface
- "Self-Medicate" by 40 Below Summer
- "Suffocate" by Motorgrater
- "Destroyer of Senses" by Shadows Fall
- "Rational Gaze" by Meshuggah
- "Archetype (Remix)" by Fear Factory
- "Enshrined by Grace" by Morbid Angel
- "Listen" by Index Case
- "Stay in Shadow" by Finger Eleven
- "Ruin" by Lamb of God
- "As Real As It Gets" by Sworn Enemy
- "Five Months" by Coretez