Carrie (2013)

There seems to be no end to the unnecessary horror remakes that Hollywood wishes to foist upon those of us lucky enough to know Jason doesn’t usually grow weed when he’s not busy killing people, or that Freddy’s face is supposed to, well, move a little bit. One could spend weeks justifying the existence of these so-called “re-imaginings” but, rather depressingly, they are usually made for financial reasons.

Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel Carrie is considered by most to be a near-perfect horror film, a slice of pure shock that’s still just as effective nearly forty years later. Therefore, the decision to re-make it for a modern audience – complete with iPhones and YouTube and everything! – seems perfunctory. However, with acclaimed director Kimberly Peirce at the helm, many have suggested this could be a brave, boldly feminist re-telling of Carrie.

Unfortunately, to say that Peirce’s Carrie is a useless, completely unnecessary remake would be a massive, earth-shattering understatement. Shockingly, it’s almost worse than anything that’s come before it because not only is it a boring, incredibly slow, and utterly meaningless film, but for the most part, it’s a shot-by-shot, often word-for-word remake of De Palma’s adaptation, which begs the question – why does it exist in the first place?

The premise is assumed to the point that we are expected to fill in certain blanks here and there, but suffice to say the action is pitched in the present day, which means that Carrie is filmed in the shower as she gets her period, and again when she is covered in pig’s blood at the Prom. These two, pivotal, scenes are symptomatic of what is so wrong with this film.

They are mishandled entirely, the first blown way out of proportion in an effort to capture the manic magic of De Palma’s very seventies take, while the Prom sequence plays like a superhero reveal, with the talented Chloe Grace Moretz – who saves the film from being a total dud – twisting her limbs as though she’s been practising for this moment her whole life.

Funnily enough, most of the film plays like a superhero origin movie, which suggests that Peirce may not completely understand King’s very brutal story. Moretz is her reliably excellent self, but she goes a bit Hit Girl towards the end, losing the innocence and naïveté that was so ingrained in an admittedly much older Sissy Spacek.

Likewise, Julianne Moore, though competent, is way over the top as her mother. From poking herself in the leg with a needle to outright screaming and throwing her daughter around at every opportunity, she surrenders to madness and loses what made Piper Laurie’s performance so wonderfully disturbing. Without subtlety, she’s just a crazy, very cruel person, instead of a disturbed, religious fanatic, struggling with her own demons.

There are some nice background players, such as Judy Greer as the kindly P.E. teacher who takes pity on Carrie, or Portia Doubleday as the popular girl who realises the error of her ways. Unfortunately, Peirce is reluctant to make the mean girls as cruel as they need to be, and a sudden change of heart, moments before the pig’s blood is spilled, confuses matters further. There is a sense that Carrie could’ve been a feminist call to arms, but instead no female is allowed to be a victim, or even a villain.

The nuances of De Palma’s shocker are sadly missing, with terrible CGI taking the place of the gooey practical effects that made Spacek’s rampage so terrifying. Though the original wasn’t subtle, it was consistent in its anti-bullying message, whereas its modern counterpart feels too rough at certain points, such as a Final Destination-esque death involving a car windshield, and too soft at others, as in the aforementioned moment when the cruellest girl suddenly changes her mind, for no apparent reason.

It’s unclear whether we are supposed to root for Carrie, or fear her, and the fact that the script is 99 per cent Lawrence D. Cohen’s original screenplay (he is credited as a writer here, too), with a few “modern” touches thrown in, doesn’t ease the feeling that this is just a skeleton of a film, wearing another’s skin while prancing around pretending to be a whole being.

Though it should be judged on its own merits, it’s impossible to separate this Carrie from its predecessor. However, the most frustrating moment comes at the end, which incorporates a bizarre twist involving teen pregnancy, without the money shot for which everyone is waiting. Instead, the film ends just as it began, with a dull, boring thud.

Though it’s sad that this is the final, mainstream horror release of the year, at least 2013 also gave us Maniac, which at least argued that remakes don’t always have to be quite this dreadful.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

One Comment on “Carrie”

  1. admin says:

    I watched this more than a week ago and I’m still angry. I think my biggest complaint was that although this film spent about as long as the original when it comes to establishing characters, I felt like I didn’t get to know any of them.

    That, and the whole Carrie as Magneto thing. What was Pierce thinking?!

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