Director: Kimberly Pierce
Cast: Chloe Grace-Moretz, Julianne Moore, Portia Doubleday, Judy Greer
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 99 Minutes
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Brian de Palma’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Carrie is one of my favorite horror films. With astounding performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie and superb direction it became an instant horror classic upon its release. It also featured a legendary climax that is one of the most recognizable scenes in film history. Now, with a paltry offering of scares in theaters this Halloween season, MGM decided to greenlight a remake of the 1976 classic.
For those of you who don’t know, Carrie White is a young woman who is constantly ridiculed at school by her peers for her problems associating with them. At home, Carrie is tormented by her neurotic mother, who forces her to sit in a small closet and pray whenever Carrie does something that she considers an affront to God. One day Carrie has her first period while taking a shower after her P.E. class. Not understanding what’s happening, Carrie panics, and her malicious classmates relentlessly mock her. Sue Snell, one of the girls who made fun of Carrie, begins to feel bad for hurting her and decides to make her boyfriend Tommy ask Carrie to the prom so she can enjoy one night as a normal girl.
However, Sue’s former friend Chris doesn’t feel bad about making fun of Carrie, and when the girl’s P.E. teacher tries to punish them with extra exercise, Chirs rebels and gets herself suspended and banned from Prom. Channeling her anger towards her teacher into an elaborate revenge plot, Chris and her boyfriend Billy make preparations to humiliate Carrie at the prom. Alongside all this, Carrie begins to realize that she has developed telekinetic powers and starts learning to control it. Her mother soon discovers this as well and labels Carrie a witch.
All that plot serves to build the momentum for the infamous Prom scene. In the original film version each character had more than enough screen time, and the slow build to the huge, jaw dropping moment made the carnage even more shocking. Even the scenes that weren’t the Prom scene were well acted, filled with relevant metaphor, and enjoyable. However, in this remake, where 90% of the original film’s most important scenes make an appearance, there is nothing holding the scenes together.
Chloe Grace-Moretz is a fine up and comer with a lot of potential for growth as an actress, but here she misfires as the reclusive Carrie. She simply brings too much personality into her performance. It was hard for me to believe her Carrie would have held back as long as she did, especially when very early on she exhibits a much more malicious side than Sissy Spacek’s Carrie. Although, I honestly believe that most of my problems with Moretz’s performance have their root in Kimberly Peirce’s direction. The same is true for Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother.
Where the original had a strong grounding in its characters, this film sacrifices that and replaces them with cheap, horribly acted imitations in order to make room for more scenes of Carrie toying with her new powers. While the special effects were merely mediocre, the scenes commit the ultimate sin of being utterly redundant. We know Carrie has this power, hell, even those of us who haven’t seen the original know what she’s going to do with that power, so having her levitate books and broken pieces of mirrors over and over again with only morsels of new information just makes you weary and insults your intelligence. There is very little here that hasn’t been explored better either in the original of some other, better film. The only new content seems to come in the form of the internet.
Obviously, in 1976 there was no internet. Therefore Chris couldn’t upload a movie of Carrie having her period on YouTube, and Carrie couldn’t watch videos of other people with telekinetic abilities. It’s clear the writers and director couldn’t think of anything to build upon, so they just tried to modernize the story a bit.
This film also shamelessly caters to the ever desensitized theater going youth with gratuitous slow motion gore scenes. In one of the film’s vital moments, a girl’s face crashes through a sheet of glass. When this happens suddenly you feel like you’re watching a bastard child made by The Matrix and Hostel as the action slows to a crawl so you can see each shard of glass dig its way into the girl’s face in a bloody display. Nothing could have been more unnecessary and pulled me out of the film quicker than those moments.
This is a brutal lesson for today’s filmmakers about what not to do when remaking a film, especially one as beloved as Carrie. With nothing new to bring to the table, horrible performances, and cheesy gore scenes, this remake should be thrown into the darkest, smallest closet in the world to repent for all eternity. Do yourself a favor and just watch the original.