Premiering this weekend, probably more comfortably on the CW network after Vampire Diaries or something is the remake of the Brian de Palma 1976 classic, Carrie. This time, the Hollywood roulette wheel of remakes landed on the idea that a new Carrie needs to be made for teens because teens can relate to things like proms, bullying, catty remarks, and prom. With Chloe Grace Moretz as the tiny, telekinetic Carrie, the remake aims to modernize the original Carrie for a new generation of horror fans or fans of seeing bullies get their just desserts.
Carrie is a fairly faithful remake to the 1976 version, but with the obvious modern touches like the bullying that Carrie White endures now spreads to the online world. A video of her traumatizing experience in the showers is posted online for all to see. While trying to follow the path that was laid out before them with the original, this Carrie remake fails to really make a meaningful impact or bring anything new to the mythos of Carrie. The problems of Carrie, bullying and her school life, are played out like CW show, where all the problems revolve around this upcoming prom that is the utter talk of the town. Carrie is bullied and Judy Greer’s character Rita Desjardin punishes one of the students named Chris (Portia Doubleday) and she isn’t able to go to school. This brings the whole world crashing down around Carrie because she ruined prom for one psychotic girl, which then spawns this weird ulterior motive from Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) to send her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom and whatever. You know what happens in the end.
What’s lacking from this movie is the bite, the fear and the sympathy that you feel for Carrie White. The remake does this over the top, too on the nose way of making us side with Carrie because those high school girls are total bitches and the staff of the school, aside from Rita, doesn’t seem to care. It pigeonholes Carrie into a completely helpless character and piles on the emotional baggage because the audience might not really feel for her over the course of the movie for some reason. Everything motive wise feels so disjointed and not coherent. The girl Chris is jilted out of prom by Carrie and makes it her mission to destroy her because…well prom is ruined. Sue, who feels guilty about what she did to Carrie, makes her boyfriend take Carrie to prom because…well every girl wants to go to prom. It’s all about prom! Prom this and prom that! Yes we the audience, even those new to the Carrie property, can tell some serious shit is about to go down of the death and dismemberment kind. These constant references to the prom border on the point of annoying since that is the only important thing in this movie, not the horrifying powers that Carrie has or the shaky relationship she has with her mother at home or the bullying thing.
The story and presentation of Carrie overshadow the performances of both Moretz and Moore, who both do an admirable job with the lackluster material and direction here. Chloe Moretz, in my mind, was a perfect choice for this role and since she is 16, can actually play a teenage I think better than Sissy Spacek can when she did Carrie in mid-twenties. She sells the lost and fearsome Carrie, but also a sense of strength and security with her new found powers. It’s a believable performance that makes up the shortcomings of the movie, but her best moments is when paired with Julianne Moore as Margaret. What a stellar performance from Moore as the religiously conflicted mother. While Piper Laurie of the original had some moments of brilliance with the physical aspects of the role, Moore just goes further with Margaret and her physical outburst to ward off and punish herself for the sins she committed. There is a new aspect of Carrie where the two White’s are one another’s safety net, feeling safe only inside the house they live in, which makes the ending a bit more meaningful. But taken out of the safety of the house, the acting becomes overshadowed with consistent abuse to remind the audience, “hey, there people are just being kicked over and over again”.
Kimberly Peirce isn’t someone who is unfamiliar with capturing the crushing struggles of conflicted young people. Her breakout movie Boys Don’t Cry, certainly has the emotional weight to bring an audience into the fold of a character, but there just doesn’t seem to be anything behind Carrie’s struggle other than in your face visuals of her struggles. It’s repeated hammering into your head makes you a bit dull to the struggle, only wanting to get to the obvious prom scene to get some sort of emotional outburst. It seems like she took more studio notes and didn’t have a lot of the nuanced control she would have wanted.
The more I reflect on Carrie, the more I realize that this is basically a superhero origin movie instead of a horror movie. Sure we get our moments of delicious violence and death, but the discovery of her powers, the manifestation and growth of them to her eventual outburst of power at the prom reminds me too much of Chronicle from 2012. In that movie, three kids discover telekinetic abilities and one of the kids eventually uses that power for “evil” after being bullied and humiliated too much. Perhaps he and Carrie can meet in a support group or something for teens with scary ass abilities.
With all the build-up of a new Carrie movie, this just doesn’t seem to hold a candle to the original. For someone like myself who has read the Stephen King story and watched the original, something about the new one just isn’t meant for me. Perhaps the digitally connected teens of the world who enjoy amped up high school stereotypes to be entertaining and want some horror-like violence to go along with their discussions about the importance of prom will get a kick out of this. For me, this was a movie that drowned out Carrie and Margaret angle in favor of some slightly gratifying prom deaths and bully comeuppance.
Rating: 2.5 buckets of blood out of 5
By Nick Guzman