Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Written by: Stephen King (story), Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (screenplay)
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde and Ansel Elgort
Brian De Palma’s original Carrie (1976) holds a special place in my heart for several reasons. It was the first rated “R” movie I ever saw, and it was the first movie I ever saw on VHS. It also paved the way to my lifelong love affair with horror movies. I remember sitting in my best friend’s basement with her family’s brand new video player and being absolutely terrified as I watched one of my favorite books (written by Stephen King) come to life on the tiny television screen in front of me. I had nightmares for weeks after I saw it. So I went into this remake with a bit of trepidation. How could this updated film top the original?
Well, it can’t. Director Kimberly Peirce’s version of the horror classic is a serviceable bit of filmmaking, but it’s completely unimaginative and doesn’t add anything new to the original story. It’s literally a scene-by-scene retread of De Palma’s film with a hip young cast and some impressive special effects. Consequently, the film feels a bit dull and tired.
Carrie has an above average cast. Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In) comfortably steps into Sissy Spacek’s shoes and pulls it off quite well, although I found her a little over the top in the film’s final third. Julianne Moore is excellent as her crazy religious zealot mother. The two play off one another well, and their complicated love/hate relationship is fully fleshed out, adding a bit more depth to the story. Carrie is devastated by her mom’s frequent confessions that she wanted to kill Carrie at birth (and that birth scene is harrowing). Funny girl Judy Greer plays it straight as the kindly gym teacher who befriends Carrie when she is taunted in gym class after getting her period.
The one new component that this version offers is the social media aspect. As if the famous shower scene couldn’t get any worse, Carrie’s classmates film the incident on their cellphones and upload the videos to the internet. The callous disregard of Carrie’s privacy makes it all that more believable that she would extract horrendous revenge on her tormentors. At its heart, this movie is about bullying and its disastrous consequences. It’s interesting to note that Peirce also directed Boys Don’t Cry, another film in which bullying is taken too far.
The film’s final third is a bit more horrific than the original. Peirce captures the claustrophobic horror of the prom scene with cool precision. Special effects are used well as Carrie lays waste to everyone in her path, but it’s not enough to save the film from mediocrity. Carrie might win some fans of the younger generation, but seasoned horror buffs would be better served by rewatching the original. – Shannon