Review: Carrie – Mother of all unnecessary remakes
Where is Professor X when you need him? If only he had enrolled Carrie White in his “School for Gifted Youngsters,” so much needless death and devastation could have been avoided – including this awful remake of the 1976 classic horror film, Carrie.
For those few who are unfamiliar with the Stephen King story of Carrie, think Cinderella goes to Hell. A young girl is raised isolated from the world while being psychologically and physically abused by her religious extremist mother. The cruel kids at school tease and humiliate Carrie until they finally go too far and she unleashes a tantrum of telekinetic power on them at the Senior Prom, killing most of her classmates and teachers.
The original Carrie film, directed in a Hitchcockian manner by Brian De Palma, is one of the greatest horror films of all time, and although it is somewhat tame by today’s measure, almost four decades ago it scared the bejesus out of audiences and set the standard for the now typical horror film shock ending.
The updated Carrie is being billed as a “reimagining” of the tale, but it is actually more of a replica with a couple of inane new scenes thrown in, just so they can say it’s not exactly the same. Unfortunately, there is nothing original that is of any substance in this remake, unless you consider giving the teenagers cell phone cameras, to record their bullying of Carrie, justification to recreate the classic.
It’s shocking that award winning director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) doesn’t have a better grasp on the dramatic source material in Carrie, which explores teenage angst and being a lonely young outsider struggling against a cold hard world that wants to crush you. Peirce would seem to be a perfect fit for this film, but the final product suggests she was just painting by numbers and then abandoned her efforts altogether in the last act.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the titular role and although she is a fine young actress she can’t hold a candle to Sissy Spacek’s original portrayal of Carrie. Maybe it’s because I’m used to seeing Moretz in her Kick-Ass‘ Hit-Girl role, but she just didn’t evoke a lot of sympathy as Carrie White, which is vital for successfully playing that part. Spacek, on the other hand, made your heart break and had you wanting to reach out and protect the young girl from harm.
Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother is the standout performance in this new film and her character seems to be the most improved over the original. If the same energy and attention had been paid to Carrie, this could have been a decent redo. For instance, “Momma” is often seen injuring herself while in a religious fervor; but if this self-harm condition had been explored with Carrie instead, the film would have been much more topical and addressed a real-life concern that plagues thousands of teenage girls. It would also have allowed the movie to venture into new territory while staying true to the original’s framework.
The new Carrie seems to follow most of the old screenplay, by Lawrence D. Cohen, to the letter. In fact, Cohen is credited as one of the writers of this new movie, so the few new scenes, bad as they are, can probably be attributed to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa of Glee and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark fame. There is one part of the new film in particular, concerning the Sue Snell character, that is so absurd it overshadows any good this movie had going for it. I don’t want to spoil anything, as if that would make a difference, but if you should see this movie you’ll realize what I’m talking about.
I had misgivings about whether this movie should be redone, but was still excited to see what Kimberly Peirce might bring to the story. Sadly, the end result proves that Carrie 2013 is the mother of all unnecessary remakes. Do yourself a favor and spend your theater admission dollars on the Blu-Ray disc of the original film. Grade: 3/10
Photos © 2013 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures