nb. I am going to write this review without a plot summary as any true horror fan would have already seen Carrie and if you have not, get off this blog immediately and watch it now!
Hmmm a Carrie remake? Who’s hair-brained idea was that?
How did the pitch go?
Lets take Stephen Kings undisputed horror classic directed when Brain De Palma was at the pinnacle of his talents, starring two actresses who were both Oscar nominated for their efforts and was also the big screen debut of John Travolta, and then ask the director of Boys Don’t Cry to put a cast of unknowns behind two very well known and respected actresses in an insipid and pointless remake.
We can enhance the possibly dated but pretty perfect filmic rendering of 1977 with the addition of making Carrie fly. Yes, you read that right people, in this version she flies, that is not a typo.
Once you’ve got your head around that little tidbit of ridiculousness, riddle me this batman, why would a girl who CAN FLY not just fly her ass straight out of that town? Why would a girl who can manipulate, literally and physically, her own mother be afraid of her and ever bow to her will – and therein lies the rub.
Sissy Spaceks Carrie from the original was a vulnerable bullied teenager with no sense of self or worth who was just beginning to take her first very tentative steps out of the nest (a poisonous and hateful nest to be sure, but the only one she has ever known) just reaching out from the crushing oppression of her mothers fanatical religious fervor and discovering her own strengths and talents. We could see how she became the girl people loved to hate and pick on, we could see the bind she was in and wanted her to succeed. In this version, the wildly miscast Chloe Grace Moretz (a fine actress but no Carrie) struggles to find the underdog in Carrie and instead of inhabiting that sad downtrodden character she tries to define her with tics such as hunched shoulders and downcast eyes but with no real person behind those things they are empty mannerisms that come off as disingenuous and we never champion her succeeding because we never believed she was failing in the first place. Her confrontations with mother never seem to be the matriarchal wielding of power that they were in the original but instead the pouting of a strong and petulant child, she never seems in danger and there is no build up of dread – a vital ingredient lost.
Julianne Moore fares better here – her Margaret White while less forceful than Piper Lauries, at least feels like a true characterisation; and while less unpredictably brutal than her predecessor, here is coiled disappointment, curdled hopes, resigned to end this ‘abomination’ she birthed.
The supporting cast are all fine and do their jobs with perfunctory good grace, no stand outs but no lemons either.
There are some improvements – the use of mobile phones and social media elevate the opening shower scene and give a new angle to the bullying, the prom scene is filmed with delicious delight, the scenes of horror clearer and this time the people Carrie liked are spared, Tommy’s fate is less ambiguous which I liked. I had hoped that this film would allow itself to stand from the original by perhaps following the book more closely but it instead followed the original film, not a wise move considering it could never better it.
And there was no final jump scare – you know the one I mean, the one we all screamed over the first time we saw it? gone! and thats real sacrilege in my book..