Review: Carrie (2013)

Know her name. Beware her power.

Know her name. Beware her power.

CARRIE (2013)
Rated R / Color / 100 minutes
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Also Known As: Keri
Purchase this film: Amazon.com (DVD) | Amazon.com (Blu-ray)

Although I’ve already made my peace with the fact that remakes are unavoidable these days, I still find myself groaning every time a new one is announced. However, that wasn’t really the case for the new remake of Brian DePalma’s CARRIE. Upon learning that Julianne Moore would be the abusive uber-religious mother, and that Chloe Grace Moretz would be the titular telepath, I was almost immediately on board for this redo.

But what changes would they make? What improvements, if any, could or would be implemented? Well quite honestly, almost nothing has been changed: If you’ve seen the original, then you’ve already seen this remake. All of the key scenes from the 1976 film are here but have now been updated to be more easily digested by today’s audiences. There are a few minor differences (e.g. Carrie’s near fatal birth is shown in the opening moments of the film), but overall, there’s nothing new brought to the table here.

For those of you who haven’t seen the original (or the 2002 remake), CARRIE is adapted from a Stephen King novel of the same name. The film centers around Carrie White, a young teenage outcast that is bullied at school, and abused at home by her insane mother. Shortly after her fellow schoolmates mock her in the locker room during her first menstrual period (and upload a video of her subsequent meltdown onto the web), Carrie discovers that she has telekinetic abilities.

The horrors of tampons, graphically portrayed!

The horrors of tampons, graphically portrayed!

She begins hitting the books in the library to learn more of her secret gift, and begins honing her powers. In the meantime, the girls that tormented Carrie are punished by their Phys-Ed teacher. Most of them atone for their cruel act, but one girl named Chris Hargensen (played with exquisitely evil bitchiness by Portia Doubleday) refuses to yield, and is banned from going to prom. Naturally she is none to pleased, so she swears vengeance upon poor Carrie.

Another one of Carrie’s tormentors, Sue Snell (Gabrielle Wilde), feels guilty for the tampon fusillade, so she skips out on prom and talks her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) into taking Carrie instead. Carrie eventually accepts (despite pleas from her mother to stay home and pray for forgiveness) and the rest of the film plays out exactly as you expect it to.

Carrie attends the prom, gets doused in freshly harvested pig’s blood, then goes on a violent, telekinetic rampage. However, she doesn’t wipe out the entire senior class and staff of her alma mater on prom night, as her character did in the original movie.

Instead, her destructive powers are aimed at those who are directly responsible for her emotional pain. Though satisfying, this provides for a much less ballsier climax to this tale. That’s why, for sheer shock value, the final act of DePalma’s version trumps this new retelling.

As far as remakes go, CARRIE is one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years. The casting for the film is superb: Julianne Moore makes Margaret White a rather unsettling yet sympathetic character. It’s implied that she was raped (which resulted in Carrie) and was so completely unable to deal with it, that she turned to religion to cope.

However, she doesn’t follow the “the good book” as we know it. She twists the words and teachings of The Bible into a playbook against the sins of the flesh. She’s actually a pretty tragic character… until she picks up a butcher knife and tries to end her daughter’s life.

You've got some red on you...

You’ve got some red on you…

Then there’s Chloe Grace Moretz, who does a fantastic job as Carrie. She totally sells the pain, anguish, and fear of a helpless young girl that is victimized by others. She also pulls off a great performance as a terrifying force of nature after she is showered in swine ichor. Chloe is a talented actress with a wide range, and she hits it out of the park in this movie.

I also have to give some credit to newcomer Ansel Elgort. According to IMDB (the not always reliable site scribes like myself frequently use for reference), CARRIE is his first notable acting gig, and I have to say that he did a great job. He’s funny and likeable and I look forward to seeing him in more films.

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with CARRIE and have recommended it to others (mainly younger folks who may have missed out on the original, its sequel, and made for TV remake), but I have to say I was disappointed that the screenwriters and filmmakers didn’t totally make this film their own. A remake should improve upon the concept from original film and bring something new to the story. There’s no effort to do that here at all.

Still, CARRIE is a well-made movie that succeeds way more often than it fails. Though it’s mainly just an updated retread, I enjoyed this tale of telekinetic vengeance and award it with: