Release Date: October 18th, 2013 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Kimberly Peirce Actors: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Zoe Belkin, Ansel Elgort, Samantha Weinstein, Judy Greer
his is the epitome of pointless movie remakes. Never does a scene improve upon the original, or even introduce an element that might have been overlooked or under-explored from Stephen King’s source material. It’s not a shot-for-shot redo, but in its attempt to be faithful to the themes and subject matter, nothing is presented with any spontaneity or flair. There are no surprises and the creepiness of 1976’s theatrical adaptation has somehow completely vanished. Do the filmmakers honestly believe they’ll find audiences that are unaware of “Carrie’s” plot or the steady build to the spectacularly tumultuous finale?
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is shy and odd, attempting to stay out of the spotlight whenever possible. At school, she has no friends and interacts with teachers and students as little as possible. Her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) is a fanatical, abusively castigating woman, mentally traumatized from her own unhealthily zealous upbringing. When the misinformed Carrie has her first period in Ms. Desjardin’s (Judy Greer) P.E. class, she thinks she’s dying and is mercilessly ostracized by her classmates. Tormentor Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) recognizes her cruelty and convinces her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to the prom as atonement. But bullying ringleader Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) and her violent lover Billy Nolan (Alex Russell) decide to lash out at Carrie again, this time blaming her for their banishment from prom.
The opening sequence adds a touch of extra blood and distress to Carrie’s origins, with Margaret’s uncertainty foreshadowing the teen’s own naivety toward her physical maturation. But it also warns of the primary visual difference with this update: highly ineffective computer graphics. “Carrie” is the sort of story that doesn’t need to be augmented with flashy, manipulated imagery, so it’s particularly disappointing that the use of CG only impairs the disturbing qualities of the blood-splattering conclusion. Viewers will also likely scoff at the inclusion of a camera phone, internet uploading, and a “Dancing with the Stars” reference. Slightly modernized recreations of strikingly iconic sequences are almost laughable.
Chloe Grace Moretz is sadly miscast as Carrie, clearly unable to convey the unsettling awkwardness, reclusiveness, and eventual ghoulishness necessary for deadly telekinetic mayhem. She’s cute, capable, reasoning, opinionated on her own competent interpretation of the bible, and quickly learns to discipline her supernatural gift, which appears to drastically contradict the previously terrifying aura of an abused soul pushed to the limits. Instead of snapping, with her mind spiraling out of control, she is instead a lucid killer specifically exacting revenge. As soon as she dominates her otherworldly powers, she’s a superhero – not a crazed, unresponsive medium of reprisal. It also doesn’t help that the supporting characters are entirely black and white: in their interactions with Carrie, each one is either genuinely remorseful or a vengeful serial killer in the making.
Julianne Moore is more comfortable in her role, convincingly looking the part, but isn’t scripted to bring fresh concepts to the table. And Judy Greer is a pathetically comical choice for the gym teacher. In compensation for an obvious avoidance of nudity, a Cronenberg-esque body horror idea is appended, along with a brief courtroom skit (perhaps for realism), twin girl accomplices (Karissa and Katie Strain, seemingly because they were handy) and a supremely out-of-place dressing montage (like something out of a romantic comedy). The bland, repetitive revisions to Brian De Palma’s classic thriller repeatedly summon questions as to why anyone thought it would be fruitful to rethink “Carrie” so similarly, especially in regards to informed audiences of 2013.
– Mike Massie