Review: Carrie / Cert: 15 / Director: Kimberly Peirce / Screenplay: Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa / Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde / Release Date: Out Now
Don’t piss off Matilda. The tale of Carrie White is updated for our age in Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Brian De Palma’s horror classic and re-adaptation of Stephen King’s first published novel. Stepping into Sissy Spacek’s mighty big shoes is rising star Chloë Grace Moretz. At least Moretz is no stranger to playing troubled youths with unconventional upbringing – she’s the face of comic book icon Hit Girl, after all.
Less chunky and acne-ridden than the Carrie of the novel and more conventionally pretty than Spacek, Moretz nevertheless imbues the girl with a sense of otherworldly, aloof oddness that makes her high school bullying seem plausible. The film opens with a departure from adaptations past – her very birth – but soon cuts to the familiar, with Carrie being pelted with tampons in the school shower. With slicker, less dreamlike direction than De Palma’s original, it’s not as upsetting or effective, while the introduction of mobile phones to that scene simply feels facile and predictable.
And therein lies the problem of remaking, rebooting or re-adapting material from the seventies and eighties onwards – the apparent need to include things like Facebook, YouTube and Tim Tebow. There are times when Carrie feels more like Mean Girls without the jokes than an adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell up the stakes in their vindictiveness towards Carrie, but neither of them are remotely memorable; much less when you compare them with their predecessors, young John Travolta and a fantastic Nancy Allen. As innocent Tommy Ross, Ansel Elgort is so vacant you’ll forget he was ever there.
Only Moretz and her on-screen mother make a real impact. Julianne Moore is the best thing in the film, exuding a sense of menace and mania that the film desperately needs. Moretz is good as Carrie, but one can’t help but feel that she’s been desperately miscast in the role, never really making it her own. More is made of her telekinetic abilities, while the finale is extended and bloodied up, but it lacks any feeling. At times – particularly during the pivotal prom scene – it simply seems to be going through the motions, more interested in getting to the (once 3D, now not) bloodshed than making us care about Carrie, Tommy or anyone else in the bloody film.
Past its gory Final Destination-style cataclysm (too much CGI, and a ridiculous-looking levitation effect), Carrie limps on to a disappointing denouement. Fans of the original will be rankled by this remake’s lack of initiative, while the uninitiated will find it to be dull and silly. It’s not outright awful, but it is annoying, obvious and unwilling to take risks. There are too many mobile phones, not enough John Travoltas and an utter dearth of sympathetic characters. The Blu-ray comes with two endings; a stupid one, and an even stupider one, which rips off and tries to differentiate itself from De Palma’s at the same time. Neither ending has Carrie White recruited by the X-Men, but both are accompanied by a completely inappropriate piece of music that sums up everything wrong with the film itself. They’re all going to laugh at you? No, the Carrie remake doesn’t even have that going for it.
Extras: Alternate ending