The Carrie remake has gotten a bad rep since it came out. With critics and audiences, saying that it was ok or just plain bad. The original is so great and so iconic, that doing a remake seems unnecessary. That would be unfair to director, Kimberly Pierce, who constructs Carrie with universal notes of sympathy, that were missing in the 1976 version.
By now the story of Carrie, a teenage girl with amazing telekinetic abilities, raised by a dangerously fanatical religious mother, has been covered to death. What, with the original Brain De Palma film, the sequel, the TV movie, and the broadway musical. Let’s not forget the original Stephen King novel. So a re-telling of the original story was not something everyone was clamouring for. Still, even though this film is a scene for scene retelling of the original film, there is enough difference in the theme for me to enjoy the new film.
Chloe Grace Moretz plays the new Carrie White. She is much prettier than the scrawny Sissy Spacek. She isn’t ugly, she feels ugly. Conventional opinion of beauty is taken out of the question. That point helps to displays her as an abused child, someone who feels worthless and has a lack of knowledge of the world she is in. All of that coupled with her having a horrid home life and her mother (Julianne Moore) claiming she is demonic after discovering her telekinetic abilities, makes you feel for Carrie White. She is the tragic hero instead of a monster.
Even Margaret White, Carrie’s mother, has some noticeable differences. In the 1976 version, Margaret White is more of a religious nut, going door to door spreading the word of God. In this version, she is a mentally ill single mom, seeking out a living as a seamstress. This character is more layered than the last. At times demented and at times loving; Moore’s portrayal of the character is the film’s highlight.
The bullying Carrie White endures is more amped up than the last film. The use of cell phone cameras only adds to the torture that Carrie has to endure. Also important to note, is the lack of nudity in certain scenes. Showing a higher interest in emotionality than sexuality.
The entire cast gives great performances. Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz both give solid performances as the film’s leads. But if the rest of the cast wasn’t as great; the film would have suffered greatly. Judy Greer does good work as the gym teacher Ms. Desjardins. Gabriella Wilde and Ansel Elgort are both likeable as Sue and Tommy, selling their goodness towards Carrie. Portia Doubleday is incredibly cruel as Chris but she sometimes goes too much into comic book villain territory. She has moments where is a real, hurt, human being to diabolically laughing. She’s obviously not laughing like Doctor Doom or anything but she has drastic changes in character.
For all the things that this version of Carrie gets right, it can not avoid that feeling of going through the motions. Where moments of dialogue and scenes are ripped straight out of the 1976 version. There is enough similarities within the script that writer, Lawrence D. Cohen (he wrote the script for the 1976 film), gets a co-writer credit in the new film. Kimberly Pierce and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa could have gone to the novel for more inspiration. King’s novel is much different from any of the other versions, comprised mostly of testimonies, interviews, and documents, about what happened to Carrie and the town she lived in. The novel may be too disjointed for a true adaptation but it shows that you don’t have to follow the DePalma film beat by beat.
Carrie may not be breath of fresh air, adhering too close to 1976 film, but its sympathetic approach to its female leads make it in some respect better than the original. Carrie (2013) is more of a tragedy. From its dark beginning, you have this sense that nothing is going to end well, and it never does. The prom scene is incredibly crafted and entertaining to watch. If you haven’t seen the 1976 film or you don’t want to see that version, watch the new one. I don’t want to say it’s just as good, because it does lack its own identity but it is beautifully crafted. There is nothing wrong with Carrie. It is an enjoyable film, which at times displays a deeper understanding of its characters than the DePalma film ever did.
Score: 7.5 out of 10