Director: Kimberly Peirce
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort
Running Time: 99 minutes
Release Date: November 29th
Billed more as a fresh adaptation of Stephen King’s novel as opposed to a remake of De Palma’s 1976 classic; Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie aims to bring the story of teenage alienation, horror and telekinesis to a modern audience. Born to a extreme Christian fundamentalist, Carrie is an outcast in school, mercilessly bullied by her contemporaries. Slowly she starts to realise she has telekentic abilities and begins to harness these to her benefit. It all comes to a bloody crescendo at the prom as the bullies take it too far and Carrie finds she can’t control her anger.
De Palma’s original, like Kubrick’s The Shining or Carpenter’s Halloween is one of those horror films that have seeped into popular culture. Even people who have not seen it are aware of the main plot points and the general story arc due to the way that they are referenced in everything from The Simpsons to 30 Rock. The question then, as is always the question with remakes; what’s the point? What exactly are the filmmaker’s hoping to achieve here? Allowing for the obvious answer of the better odds they get of making a profit by investing in a known quantity, the main answer seems to be one of relevance. The high school experience of the 1970s is a world away from that of the 2010s.
I’m not a horror aficionado by any stretch of the imagination but at some point horror films moved from teasing audiences to create a sense of unease, to an exploitation of anatomy designed to make the audience queasy. The Carrie remake is no different, we are treated to about three action replays of the bucket of pig’s blood crashing on Carrie’s head and, where in 1976 her high school arch nemesis was dispatched in a car explosion, this time around involves a slow-motion shot of her face breaking through the windscreen before the camera lingers on her features impaled on the glass shards, unable to move. The problem here, as with all films of this nature is the mix of voyeurism and prudishness that arises; feel encouraged to study the effects of broken glass on a young girl’s face, just don’t let yourself enjoy it.
Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother is as solid as you would expect — forgoing the hysterics of Laurie’s original performance for a menacing, steely, determination. Judy Greer turns in yet another accomplished supporting role. Chloe Grace-Moretz is equally as dependable as the teenage lead; she plays Carrie more closed off and with less of an air of innocence. The side effect here though is that Carrie moves from unwittingly innocent through whom a power is unleashed to a willing accomplice, directing harm upon those who she feels deserve it. As well as begging the question as to what the filmmaker’s are hoping to achieve with this, it leaves Grace-Moretz wandering through the town pulling off hand gestures and neck movements last seen from Paul Daniels.
Carrie feels like a wasted opportunity; Peirce remains a talented filmmaker but there is little of her stamp or personality on the material. Two many promising avenues are left untouched, even the role of smartphones and YouTube in bullying is barely touched upon. In the era of overwhelming studio control, this remake wreaks as much of directing from studio committee as De Palma’s original wreaked of the manical laughter and perverse glee of a gifted, disturbed auteur.