by Daniel Rester
There aren’t really any big horror films out this Halloween season except for Carrie, yet another remake (or “reimagining”) courtesy of Hollywood. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King and is the third version to hit the screen, following the 1976 Brian De Palma classic and the 2002 TV movie. It’s too bad, though, that most audience members will be less interested in the film than thinking about why this thing was even made.
The story has the title character (played here by the talented Chloe Grace Moretz), a teenage girl, getting ridiculed by classmates after being confused about her first period. She is confused because her highly religious, overprotective mother (Julianne Moore) has kept her in the dark about a lot of things. She even literally keeps her in the dark sometimes, locking her away in a closet for prayers when she misbehaves. While the stress of dealing with her mom and classmates comes down on her, Carrie learns that she is developing telekinetic powers.
The school situation leads a girl named Sue (Gabriella Wilde) to feel sorry for Carrie. To make up for the trouble, she asks her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to prom instead of her. Meanwhile, another classmate named Chris (Portia Doubleday) plans a cruel attack on Carrie involving that famous pig blood.
Carrie is the kind of remake that isn’t necessarily terrible, but rather just seems pointless because it takes little risks and brings nothing new to the table. The only thing the film really accomplishes is showing that King’s past material can still work in newer settings, with the story modernized with cellphones and computers. It is also pretty faithful to the source material, so it gets that right. Yet at the same time there isn’t enough new to the storytelling methods and filmmaking styles to register the film as a wanted remake. It’s that air of “why is this necessary?” that really knocks the film down.
The film is skillfully made for the most part, with Kimberly Pierce a good choice for directing the material; she directed the female-based drama Boys Don’t Cry (1999). She certainly gets the teen angst, effects of harsh bullying, and other themes down, right up to the ultimate metaphoric revenge scenes.
It also helps that Pierce is working with a strong cast. Moretz doesn’t have the frightening expressions and sadness that Sissy Spacek had for the role, but she is still a terrific choice. The actress has impressive range for her age, making you both root for her and be terrified by her. Casting Moore as the abusive mother was also a smart move, as she can be alternately timid and frightening with her skills. Everyone else is pretty solid as well, with Judy Greer (as the gym teacher) and Alex Russell (as Billy, Chris’ boyfriend) adding some flavor with their performances.
Even as it’s well-made (to a point) and well-cast, the film still just feels average and needless; it also isn’t very scary on a psychological level. Does it entertain? Yes, but it can’t hold a candle to the nutty 1976 version. Its routine methods, overuse of CGI during the climax, and lack of any new depth for the story or characters really deflate it.
I recommend checking out some horror classics instead of this this Halloween season. However, keep an eye on Moretz. She is definitely continuing to go places.
Rating: 2 out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: C)