‘Carrie’ was Stephen King’s first novel published to the masses, and it made him a writing sensation. In dealing with remakes, it’s difficult not to compare to previous versions, as we have the same story arc and characters. In this case with Kimberly Peirce’s take on King’s novel, nothing seems too different from Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation other than a setting in the present day with mobile phones and computers, and a few other minor updates. Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz turn in great performances to give this reboot a bit of flair, but the overall pace and execution of some of the key scenes feels vague and lazy.
Moore plays Margaret White, a religious fanatic who abuses herself by throwing her head into a wall or cutting herself with sharp objects. In the first scene of the film, she has a beautiful baby girl that she almost kills with a large pair of scissors, but changes her mind at the last second. Flash-forward, and Margaret’s now-teenaged daughter Carrie (Moretz) attends public high school. A lot of the film plays out like a typical high school drama with cute jocks, mean girls and the lonely outcast who has no friends (in this case, that’s Carrie). But little does everyone know that Carrie has a special power that she’s developing and discovering.
The rest of the story plays out as earlier versions have, with tampon-throwing, pig’s blood, and a horrible prom that results in a lot of people’s deaths when Carrie unleashes her telekinetic powers.
The best parts of the film occur when Moretz and Moore share screen time together. Their mother/daughter relationship is terrifying and creepy. While Carrie begs her psychotic mother to let her experience regular relationships and interactions, Margaret is verbally abusive and not above locking Carrie in a small closet to read the entire Bible at the drop of a hat. Moore pulls this wreck of a woman off perfectly in a very haunting performance. Moretz has a lot to play with here too, as she gets to toy with being a regular teenage girl and going to prom, but also unleashing her dark side where she can kill people with the flick of a finger.
Some of the key scenes feel anti-climactic and go by too fast. I expected a grand and epic scene with the iconic bucket of blood, but I felt unsatisfied as the film rushed us off to the next part of the story. The visual effects are solid, and it appears that a bit of practical blood was used rather than silly-looking CG blood, which is a nice touch. The villains are over-the-top evil and make us want to see Carrie get her sweet revenge unharmed.
This isn’t the worst remake, but it isn’t stellar either. There’s room for a sequel too, but I doubt we’ll get to that point.