Blood and fire

Blood and fire

Remake fails to justify its existence

By Tim Pompey 10/24/2013

Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort
Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
1 hr. 40 mins.

Given the iconic status of Carrie, from the release of Stephen King’s book in 1974 to his work as screenwriter on the 1976 classic, it seems to me to be a huge risk to do a remake.

So, why this version? The short answer is, I don’t know. Even though it has a solid cast, it wastes its time simply repeating the same story with the same characters and the same ending. Yes, it updates the plot with references to technology and cyberbullying, but not much else has changed.

Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a shy teenage girl just about to graduate from high school. She struggles with her mother (Julianne Moore), a religious zealot who constantly warns her about the dangers of men, sin and sex.

One day in gym class, Carrie unexpectedly gets her period and panics, thinking she is bleeding and dying. The girls in her class taunt and throw tampons at her. Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) is especially vicious, not only leading the taunting, but taking pictures and posting them on the Internet.

Gym teacher Desjardin (Judy Greer) breaks up the melee, drags Chris in front of the principal, and eventually gets her banned from going to the upcoming prom. When Chris learns that Carrie herself has a prom date, she and her boyfriend Billy (Alex Russell) hatch a plot of revenge.

Meanwhile, Carrie’s anger leads her to discover that she has telekinetic powers, powers that she studies and develops throughout the movie.

Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), who witnessed Carrie’s embarrassing shower disaster, feels guilty about the whole affair and convinces her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to the prom. Carrie is understandably suspicious, but eventually accepts his invitation. She makes her own dress, locks up her manic mother, and goes with him. The rest, of course, is well-known. Buckets of blood. The fire of Carrie’s rage. Hellish chaos and destruction everywhere.

Other than changing the setting to a large city and adding  iPhones and Facebook, director Kimberly Peirce stays mostly within the confines of the original story. To her credit, she does keep things moving, drawing out Carrie and her mother’s pathology just enough to keep things gliding toward its horrific ending. If her intent was to lead us by the hand to the real point of the film — the blood, the fire — she succeeds.

While Moretz is both charming and chilling as the girl turned woman who discovers her feminine identity and her telekinetic powers, her natural beauty betrays the awkwardness and naive nature of King’s original Carrie.

Nor do Moore’s histrionics capture the cold pathology of mother Margaret’s religious excesses. You can’t just scream your way through this role. There’s a soul to zealotry that is both sincere and willing to do damage. Moore vacillates between extreme tenderness and wild panic. It calls into question the actual severity (and perhaps her own understanding) of Margaret’s convictions.

The part that is most striking is the connection made in this film to modern-day cyberbullying. Chris’ Facebook posts of Carrie panicking in the shower are particularly disturbing and the ensuing trauma reminds us of the power of the Internet to seek and destroy.

For a new generation that may be unfamiliar with the original Carrie, this film might be entertaining or interesting. But for those of us who’ve read the book and seen that other movie, this Carrie doesn’t offer much in the way of interest or entertainment.

Yes, it has a fiery ending and Moretz herself is more than creepy with all that pig blood on her face, but this version of Carrie is a broken record. Truly, up against the real classic, why go back? When it comes to this film, I can’t think of a single good reason.


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