Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde
It’s been nearly thirty years since Sissy Spacek terrified us all with her haunting portrayal of a high school outcast named Carrie. Now, the universe has decided a sequel was deemed necessary for audiences everywhere. Way back when, I had high hopes for the project with names like Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore jumping aboard the cast. The news of their signing on made it buzzworthy and gave the impression that the movie was heading for a pretty serious remake. The question is, was it a good idea to remake a classic film that didn’t essentially need to be revisited?
To me, the answer depends on what the studio plans to accomplish with a remake. I usually do not mind when a remake reveals itself if 1) the studio has a strong vision that sets itself apart from the original, or 2) the original didn’t reach its full potential the first time, warranting a need to try again. Such an example of these two fine criteria at play are horror remakes such as The Crazies, or Zack Snyder’s remake of the George Romero classic Dawn of the Dead. The truth of the matter is, when compared to strong horror remakes like the ones I just mentioned, the 2013 Carrie doesn’t measure up, or make a strong argument why we needed to see the troubled teenager once again.
Most people are familiar with the story which originated by Stephen King. Carrie is a troubled youth who lives all alone with her overly religious mother. She lives a sheltered life due to her mother’s constant fear of sin and temptation among teenagers. The result has made her a misunderstood outcast insidse, as well as outside of high school.
After an extremely disturbing scene involving her birth, Carrie’s introduction shortly begins just like the 1976 film. Poor young Carrie– who has zero knowledge of the changes her body is undergoing– has her first period while showering with the other girls in her class. I’m not sure if it is made crystal clear, but it seemed that the powers were manifested because of her shower incident, which according to fellow Renegade Shawn S. Lealos, kept closer to the book. Most young girls at least have a mother who educates and warns them of the changes before they become grown. Carrie’s mom being the sheltering crazy woman she is, neglects doing both. So, when Carrie sees the blood, it causes her to panic and freak out in the shower. Other girls have no idea how to react to her hysterical behavior and resort to making fun of her instead by throwing tampons at her, chanting “plug it up.”
This basically sets the entire plot into motion from here. After the events, some girls regret acting out towards Carrie, some don’t. Two female co-stars in particular shine quite nicely in their roles as polar opposites of the victimization of Carrie. Gabriella Wilde plays Sue, who is a girl that immediately regrets tormenting her in the shower. Zoe Belkin plays Tina, who I can best describe as a version of Mean Girls on steroids. Tina has no remorse and only hates Carrie further after she gets suspended from attending prom for videotaping the shower episode, and posting it on Youtube.
Chloe Moretz doesn’t strike the same jarring notes as Sissy Spacek, but does quite well with what she is given. Instead of coming across as mentally disturbed teen like in the Spacek version, Moretz you feel sympathy for. Her version of Carrie is portrayed as an emotionally damaged child who just needs rescuing. She really does well here, and holds her own against the likes of Julianne Moore in many scenes.
Speaking of Julianne Moore, holy sh*t! Her presence alone made the remake at least good for one viewing. Julianne Moore is not lucky to be in this movie, this movie is lucky to have Julianne Moore. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t rise to the occasion the way she does. A part of me wishes the script explored the relationship between Carrie and her mom a bit further, because the scenes they shared were the most captivating.
The problems faced with the new version of Carrie cannot be found in the acting or direction. In fact, director Kimberly Pierce delivers some great moments with this new vision. Directing aside, the film suffers from all the issues a bad remake possesses. First being the strange overwhelming need for Hollywood to slap everything with CGI. Part of what made De Palma’s film so terrifying is everything felt real. Using practical effects helped increase the terror back in the day because it forced the directors to make us feel like it’s actually happening. Now, remakes such as Carrie 2013, endure the laziness of studios to take great iconic moments and package them with computer effects. Thus, lowering the tension and realism of cinematic events like the classic prom scene.
Then there is the source material, which is a great story, but knowing where the film is headed removes most of the stakes. This is really the best reason why I can argue the film never really needed a remake, because most everyone knows how the story ends and it was executed quite nicely the first time. I was hoping maybe the finale would possibly be the icing on the cake, and the film would go full-on crazy with itself, like this year’s Evil Dead. Unfortunately, this never happened and Carrie’s rage ended just as quickly as it started.
The new vision of Carrie isn’t terrible, it’s just unnecessary. Even I was hopeful that Moretz and Moore could find a magical reason why we should revisit this chilling tale, but despite their great performances, not even they could provide sufficient evidence. If there is any reason to see this film, it is to remind kids why they shouldn’t bully someone they don’t understand. Not because the bullied victim is going to inflict a telekinetic massacre on everyone, but simply because you may not understand what that person is struggling with outside of school. Other than that, the new vision of Carrie doesn’t live up to its full potential. As the slogan says, “you will know her name”… That might be true, but this time you will forget her.