Synopsis: A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.
Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Running Length: 100 minutes
TMMM Score: (5.5/10)
Review: Here’s the cold bloody truth about this remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 film adaptation of Stephen King’s book…it’s just totally unnecessary. Now I’m not crazy about remakes in general, especially when they’re taking a film that was already well-respected to begin with – so the question must be “What will a new take on the film bring to the table?”
When director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) was asked this question the answer seemed to be that her vision of King’s novel would follow the book more. That’s a valid argument and we’ve certainly seen that King’s work can be interpreted different ways…one need only watch Stanley Kubrick’s big screen treatment of The Shining and compare it to the more faithful (but less interesting) television miniseries to see that the material lends itself to reinvention.
Knowing this, I still had reservations about seeing a new version of King’s famous story about a shy girl with a zealot for a mother that enacts a furious vengeance on her high school tormentors. I just didn’t see any point to it…could Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass 2, Dark Shadows) have that same vulnerability Sissy Spacek so wonderfully tapped into? Would Julianne Moore (Don Jon, Non-Stop) chow down on the role of Carrie’s fanatical mother with the same glee that Piper Laurie took? And what of the final denouement at Carrie’s prom…without the benefit of De Palma’s use of split screen and Pino Donaggio’s tingling score could it have that same terrifying impact?
Sadly…this remake lives totally in the shadow of the original and doesn’t do itself any favors by not taking the kind of risks that Peirce seemed to promise. While Moretz’s take on Carrie is less simpleton than Spacek’s, I have a continued desire to shout “Stop mumbling” whenever she’s on screen. Kudos goes to Moore for going all the way with the crazed mama role, though Laurie ultimately remains the victor only because her mania was always simmering rather than boiling, though I have to say that Moore was probably the only choice for the role the way screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa have fashioned her.
Then again, I found myself at times wondering what I would have thought of the film if it hadn’t been a remake. I’d have nothing to compare it to so it would have wound up being another high school set thriller with a decidedly interesting edge. So it’s not so much that the film is bad, because with its unusually strong performances (including Portia Doubleday as queen bee Chris and Gabriella Wilde, Endless Love, as sensitive Sue) and controlled style it’s a perfectly decent, if uninspired, effort.
The other big problem is that the majority of the audiences know how it’s going to end. That’s not just because they’ve seen the original because I’d bet the majority of the young audiences won’t even know films existed before 1990, but because the trailers and posters have showed our young star bathed in blood and not enjoying her prom in the least. In De Palma’s version, Carrie’s destruction of the prom was truly frightening as she has a mental break and uses her telekinetic powers to ensure no one gets lucky. With Spacek’s wide-eyes peeking out from a blood streaked face, all she had to do was move her eyes and De Palma’s split screen showed the result. No such invention is used here and that results in Carrie’s vengeance coming across as more calculated and decision-oriented. Spacek simply lost it, Moretz is in control…and that changes our allegiances in some way.
In the grand scheme of things, this remake is not the worst that could befall an adaptation of a Stephen King novel (coughcoughTheLawnmowerMancoughcough) but I just wish that if they HAD to remake it…they had done it with a greater conviction and purpose.