“Carrie” Movie Review

     The remaking of horror classics is nothing new, as films ranging from “Halloween” to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” have seen recent reboots with mixed results.  Each time one of these comes out, I always ask myself why the need?  Money, of course, is always a factor as is introducing these stories to the current generation of movie goers.  When I’m asked about these films, my automatic reply is to simply watch the original and skip the remake, re-imagining, reboot, or whatever the studios are calling it these days.  This holds true with director Kimberly Peirce’s “Carrie” remake, which isn’t a bad film, but really had me thinking more about how good Brian DePalma’s 1976 original was.  Peirce adds a number of modern twists, but essentially this is a replay of the same story with different actors standing in for Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in their iconic roles.

     With Peirce’s previous credits including successfully directing Hilary Swank to her first Oscar win in 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry”, there’s a sense of instant credibility in her vision of the famous Stephen King novel.  Whereas watching the 1976 classic today indicates massive differences in the way teens dressed and interacted, DePalma also didn’t hold back on the nudity, particularly in the film’s opening sequence.  Peirce, even though her film is rated “R”, has cut out all of the nude scenes, instead opting for a higher level of graphic violence and a greater study of the interaction between high school teens, particularly females. 

     If there is a reason to revisit this material, it’s to highlight the always sensitive issue of bullying, which never fails to make headlines each day.  “Carrie” proves this has always gone on, but in today’s world of social media, these kids are now armed with the tools to make a kind of impact not possible in the 70s.  The cruelty at the hands of these female thugs disguised as debutants that Carrie must endure, reminded me of a similar sequence in a film I saw earlier this year called “Disconnect”.  If “Carrie” wasn’t a supernatural horror story, in real life she probably would’ve committed suicide rather than exact revenge in a way only her character could.  Peirce’s film, perhaps knowingly, brings to light the fact this kind of behavior has existed for decades with little being done about it.

     As played by a game Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from “Kick Ass”), Carrie White is a homely and unpopular senior in high school, who has been raised by her single mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), sheltered and abnormally absorbed in religion.  In a prologue, we learn the fate of Carrie’s father, as well as Margaret’s state of mind at the time of Carrie’s birth.  Let’s just say she creates a long and treacherous road ahead for both of them.  Margaret regularly punishes Carrie by locking her in a closet and insisting she pray for forgiveness for even the slightest of sins.  Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Margaret is cold and listless, even evil at times.  Her character would feel right at home with Pastor Abin Cooper and his family in Kevin Smith’s “Red State”.  As it is, Carrie has had to endure this all her life and you would think going to school would allow her some kind of release.

     Unfortunately, the only thing meaner than Margaret are the kids who populate her high school.  With the lack of motherly love, Carrie has no idea why she is bleeding while taking a shower alone after gym class.  When she screams for help in horror at the sight of her blood, her female class mates taunt and laugh at her.  As she is bombarded by tampons and sanitary napkins, these future leaders of our country chant “plug it up” and record the entire incident by way of their iPhones.  If you know how children of today operate, than you certainly know what comes next.  Yes, they post the video on Facebook for all to see, effectively embarrassing Carrie in front of the entire school.  Ultimately, this leads to those responsible being suspended and in one case banned from attending senior prom.  In a moment of guilt and morality, popular school girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) decides to give up going to prom and has her ultra popular boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), ask Carrie instead.  If you know the story, than you know where this goes.  Moretz hams it up during the climactic scenes, ironically resembling the witch she is accused of being by her mother.  In truth Moretz is a better fit for Carrie, though more attractive than Spacek, she’s the right age to portray the character (Spacek was 27 at the time) and actually transforms into a beautiful girl on prom night.  Spacek left a lot to be desired on both accords.

     Carrie, throughout the story, realizes she has telekinetic powers that allow her to abruptly move and control objects and even people.  She uses these powers at first to effectively protect herself from her insane mother, but later is able to use her talents with such skill that I have to figure Yoda would have been proud. The final scenes in the third act are quite a sight to see, if only I hadn’t already seen it before and that’s really the point here.  Peirce is clearly a talented filmmaker and if she wanted to make a film that brings to light the horrors kids face from bullying, why not make something original?  GRADE: C